Skip to main content

Full text of "Daily Bible illustrations, original readings. Evening series"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 



60009 11 sev 

00081 ieov 


:9fE\'i'';Y ' 




1 1 








J. L. PORTER, D.D. LL.D., 





/o/./. ///. 



The present Volume completes the series of Illustrations of 
the Old Testament. It will be found, like those which pre- 
cede it, to possess a distinctive character of its own, reflected 
from the equally distinctive character of the Books which it 
illustrates. The number and variety of the Prophetical Writ- 
ings impart a more miscellaneous aspect to the Volume than 
belonged to any of its predecessors ; but this circumstance is 
not likely to be regarded as a disadvantage to it. For the 
same reason the selection of subjects has been more than 
usually arbitrary ; but we trust it will be found to have been 
made with due regard to the gratification of the readers for 
whose use this publication is primarily designed. 

The fulfilment of prophecy is a subject that scarcely comes 
within the scope of this Work ; nor would the entire Volume, 
to the exclusion of all other matter, have sufficed for the 
adequate survey of so large a field. The subject has not, 
however, been altogether overlooked. Some of the prophecies 
which have been fulfilled by historical facts or local circum- 
stances, or which have obtained recent corroboration from 
ancient monuments, have been presented for consideration. 
In the selection of these, the Author has been mainly guided 
by that sympathy with his readers, which enables a writer of 
some experience to judge, or rather to feel, what would be 

iv Preface. 

most acceptable to his own public \ and partly, also, by a 
natural preference for that which his observation and research 
might enable him most freshly to illustrate. From both con- 
siderations, and from the further wish to diversify the Volume 
with biographical and historical materials, much attention has 
been given to the prophecies which refer to the person and 
exploits of C)niis, who occupies so peculiar a position in the 
prophecy of Isaiah. 

The Readings of this Volume comprise some conspicuous 
examples of the fulfilment of local prophecies. But into this 
class of subjects, although congenial to our own tastes, we 
have not entered so largely as we might have done, in the 
belief that it has already received most sufficient treatment in 
books which have had very extensive circulation. 

We have not failed to render the recent discoveries at 
Nineveh available for the illustration of the Scripture facts and 
prophecies which refer to Assyria. In the hope of rendering 
this source of information more interesting, we have intro- 
duced a greater number of engravings than any other of our 
Volumes contains. Those which comprise Ass)n:ian subjects 
have been copied, with care, chiefly from the sculptures in the 
British Museum, or from M. Botta*s great and costly work on 

The encouragements of various kinds, which the Author 
has received during the progress of this Work, have been most 
refreshing ; and he cannot now allow himself to doubt that 
the same will attend him to its close. 

London, May 29, 1852. 





Isaiah's Prophecies, 


Scarlet Sins, . 

Dress and Ornament of Women, 

Tinkling Ornaments and Mufflers, 







Rebellious Children, 
Veils and Wrappers, ' 
Butter and Honey, . 
Rabshakeh's Oration, 
Horses and Chariots, 
Terms of Submission, 
Turned Waters, 



Visiting the Lord in Trouble, 

Assyrian Sieges, 

Assyrian Religious Notions, . 


The Persians, 

Providence in the Birth of Cyrus, 

Providence in the Early Life of Cyrus, 







Cyrus called by Name, 

Jehovah Acknowledged by Cyrus, 

Zoroaster, . . , 




Ormuzd and Ahriman, 
Religious Peculiarities, 
Historical Elucidations, 
The Nations given to Cyrus, 





The Sure Word of Prophecy, 

. 151 

Croesus, ...... 

. 156 

Siege of Sardis, . . . . . 


The Burden of Babylon, 

. 166 

Gold Disregarded, . . . . . 

. 171 

Incidents of Ancient Warfare, 

. 177 

Details from Jeremiah, . , . , 

. 185 



China in Scripture, . 

The Person of Jesus Christ, 

Stone-Pillar Worship, 


The Latter Rain, 

Hewing Down Trees, 



The Old Paths, 
Ancient Cruelties, 
The Ravenous Bird, 
Funeral Feasts, 
Fatherland, , 
The Yokes, . 



The Rechabites, 
Modem Rechabites, . 
Hidden Stores in the Fields, 






Ezekiel, . . . 

The Portraiture of Jerusalem, 
The Symbolical Siege, 




* The Rod hath Blossomed,' . 

Character of Ezekiel's Prophecies, 

Chambers of Imagery, 


Cob-Walls, . 

The Parting of the Way, 

Painted Sculptures, . 


The Stroke, ....... 

. 319 

Rabbah, ....... 


Old Tyre, ....... 

. 327 

Insular Tyre, ...... 

• 331 

Sepulchres of Asshur and Elam, . . . , 

. 335 

The Tomb of Cyrus, . . . . . 

. 338 

Daniel, ....... 

• 343 







The Learner's Aid, . 

." 349 

Conscientious Scruples, 

. 352 

The Examination, 

. 356 

The Lost Dream, 

. 359 

The Fiery Furnace, . 

• 364 

The Fall of Pride, . 

. 369 

I'he Tomb of Daniel, 

. 374 


The Spiritual Marriage, 

. 378 

The Black Obelisk, . 

. 381 

Locusts, . . . . 

. 386 

The Peasant Prophet, 

. 390 

The Great Fish, 

• 395 

Nmeveh, . . . , 

» • a^ 4 


Jonah in Nineveh, . 

• « 1 

. 403 




The Gourd, . 

Samaria and Zion, 

Ruin of Nineveh, 

Habakkuk, . 


The Earthquake, 









Frontispiece :— Nineveh— Khorsabad. 
Vignette : — Tomb of Daniel at Susa. 

Branch with the Coccus lUcis, or the Scarlet Grub, 

Oriental Anklets, .... 

The Safa and Bark, Egyptian Ornaments for the Hair, 

Arabian Kamarah, . 

Arabo-Egyptian Pendants and Necklaces, 

Arabian and Syrian Bracelets, 

Muffler or Veil, 

Caskets for Amulets, . 

Eastern Lady in full dress, 

In-door Mantle, 

Out-door Dress with Hood, 

Out -door Mantles, 

The Tob, or Outer Wrapper, 

Ancient Egyptian Metallic Mirrors, . 

In-door and Back VeUs, 

Egyptian Ladies with braided hair, . 

Assyrian Archer shooting backwards, 

Sting of a Bee, 

Assyrian King with Staff, 

Assyrian King and Cupbearer, 

Head of Eunuch, from Khorsabad, . 

Assyrian Horses, 

Assyrian Horseman, . 

Assyrian Horses with Head-Stall and Bell on Neck, 

Assyrian Chariot of the early period, 

Assyrian Chariot of the later period, . 

Treaty of Peace, from Nineveh Sculptures, 

River Fortress and Boat, 
















goxxxttmi\( Muk—gmt gnrt. 


now enter upon the large and interesting field, 

.v'hich, in the books of prophecy, is spread out 

)efore us. But we may pause for a moment, at 

ne gate, to ask what is the nature of prophecy, 

id what are the character and functions of the 

)0 limited an idea is usually entertained. It is 

?rstood that prophecy is merely the foretelling of 

, and that the prophet is merely one by whom, 

wer given him from on high, such things are 

prophecy contains more than this ; and the 

nd something more. In the larger scriptural 

may be defined as the revelation of God's will 

J regard to mankind, made known through the 

r certain persons chosen and inspired for this 

.f doctrines, precepts, symbols, records, and 

--ophet, therefore, in this comprehensive sense 

erson raised up by God, to teach men what 

I hem, and what they may expect from Him. 

5 were the Lord's messengers to his people 

They were appointed to make known his 

; judgments ; to denounce the sins of rulers 


2 Fourteenth Week — First Day. 

and subjects ; to warn, to threaten, and to exhort ; they were 
to instruct the people in the doctrines of religion, and to 
enforce the obligations which those doctrines involved ; and 
generally to do whatever was needful to be done, in order to 
promulgate the will and promote the service of God. Thus 
the prophets were no less teachers and rebukers, than fore- 
tellers of things to come. 

From this idea of the prophetic function, it necessarily fol- 
lows, that the prophets spoke not as from a man to men ; but 
as those entrusted with direct authority from God, to speak in 
his name to sinful men — delivering, as his ambassadors, that 
which He had imparted to thejn in some of the modes by which 
his will was made known. Hence they came not before the 
people as the teachers of the Gentiles, with moral discourses, 
metaphysical treatises, or philosophical reasonings ; but stood 
forth to make known the will of One above them, and to 
express higher thoughts and purposes than their own, with the 
trumpet-words : ' Thus saith the Lord.' 

The Hebrew word for a prophet is Nabi, which comes from 
a word that signifies to boil up, to boil forth as a fountain ; and 
hence to pour forth words as those do who speak with fervour 
of mind, or under a divine inspiration. The word, therefore, 
properly describes one who speaks under a peculiar fervour, 
animation, or inspiration of mind, produced by a divine in- 
fluence ; or else one who speaks, whether in foretelling future 
events, or in denouncing the judgments of God, when the mind 
is full, and when the excited and agitated spirit of the prophet 
pours forth the commissioned words, as water is driven from the 
fountain. The very name, therefore, strongly manifests the 
constraining power from above by which the prophets were 
moved, and through which they spake. 

Although, as we have seen, the office of the prophet was not 
confined to the prediction of future events, but embraced much 
besides ; and although it is thus necessary to enlarge the com- 
mon idea of the prophetic office ; we must be careful not to 
enlarge it too greatly. Thus, in regard to teaching, as in other 
respects, the office of the prophet was extraordinary rather than 

Prophecy. 3 

ordinary. As his ordinary servants and teachers, God appointed 
the priests and Levitcs. They taught what the law, as it stood, 
or appeared to stand, enjoined ; and they performed the sacred 
rites which it demanded. But when, under this more formal 
teaching, the nation slumbered ; when they came to rest on the 
mere lettier of the law; when they misapprehended its real 
character ; or when they turned away from it, — then appeared 
the prophet to rouse, to excite, to warn the people, and to call 
them back to the real purport of their own institutions. This 
explains the circumstance, that in times of great moral and 
religious corruption, when the ordinary means no longer sufficed 
to restrain the people, the number of the prophets greatly 

Though extraordinary ministers of religion, the prophets 
stood not apart from the law, nor were in any way independent 
of it That the Lord would, from time to time, send such 
prophets when they were needed, had been expressly promised 
by Moses himself, who, by a special law, secured their authority 
and safety.^ But in their labours as respected their own times, 
they were strictly bound by the Mosaic law, and not allowed to 
add to it or ' diminish aught from it.' What was said in this 
respect to the whole people, applied also to themselves.* We 
find, therefore, that prophecy always takes its ground in the 
law, to which it refers, from which it derives its sanction, and 
with which it is fully impressed and saturated. There is no 
chapter in the prophets in which there are not several refer- 
ences to the law. The care of the prophets was to explain it, 
to bring it home to the hearts of the people, and to preserve it 
vital in its spirit It was, indeed, also their duty to point to 
future advancement, and to announce the dawn of better light 
— ^when the ever-living spirit of the law should break through 
its hitherto imperfect forms, and make for itself another more 
complete ; but, for their own times, they thought not of altering 
any of the laws in question, even as to their form, and much 
less as to their spirit For all change, for all essential develop- 
ment, they directed the view of their cotintrymen forward to the 

^ Deut. xviii. l8, 19. 2 Dent. iv. 2, xiii. i. 

4 Fourteenth Week — First Day. 

time of the Messiah, who himself came not to destroy the law, 
but to fulfil it, superseding its ritual symbols only by accom- 
plishing all they were designed to shadow forth. 

The great distinction between the ordinary and the extra- 
ordinary teachers, the priests and the prophets, was that the 
latter were inspired. This naturally suggests the inquiry, What 
was the nature of the inspiration under which the prophets 
spake and acted ? To examine this matter fully belongs not to 
this place ; and is, after all, of little real consequence to those 
who are enabled to believe what the Scripture itself teaches — 
that it was complete, and was in all respects fully adequate to 
the end to be attained.^ Where the end was external action, — 
where it was the instruction of God's people in regard to the 
present or the future, — ^whether it were to be given byword, by 
writing, or by both, — ^whether for temporary ends, or with a 
view to perpetual preservation, — the prophets are clearly repre- 
sented as infalHble ; which, as regards them, means that they 
were incapable of erring or deceiving with respect to the matter 
of their revelation. How far this object was secured by direct 
suggestion, by negative control, or by an elevating influence 
upon their natural powers, is a question of little practical 
importance to those holding the only essential doctrine — that 
the inspiration was in all respects such as rendered those who 
received it incapable of error. Any inspiration beyond this 
could not be needed ; any less than this would be worthless. 

The prophet usually received, in the first instance, a super- 
natural call or appointment to his oflSce. Yet was he not there- 
after always in a state of inspiration, or infallible in all his words 
and conduct. We may trace error in the merely human con- 
duct and speech of most of the prophets. It was only when 
they received special intimations of the divine will, and felt 
that they were authorized to speak in the name of the Lord, 
that they claimed to be, or were deemed to be, inspired. There 
is a remarkable instance of this in the case of Gad the seer, 
who, although in his merely human judgment he warmly ap- 
proved and encouraged David's intention to build a temple to 

^ See 2 Tim. iii. i6 ; 2 Pet. i. 2i. 

Prophecy. 5 

the Lord, was presently after constrained to go back, and, as a 
prophet, forbid, in the name of the Lord, the execution of this 

In regard to the mode in which the will of the Lord was 
imparted to the prophet, all inquiry is more curious than 
profitable. It may, however, be inferred, from the expressions 
used in Scripture, as well as from some distinctly recorded 
instances, that the most usual mode of communication was by 
means of immediate vision — that is, by the presentation to the 
prophet of the matter to be revealed, as if it were to him an 
object of sight If this was the common mode, it was not, 
however, the only one. Some things in the prophecies require 
us to suppose that they were made known to the prophet just 
as he made them known to others — by the simple suggestion 
of what he was to say, or by the dictation of the words he 
should utter. 

A question has been raised as to the mental and bodily state 
of the prophet, when under the influence of these divine opera- 
tions. Was he as fully in possession of his natural faculties, as 
completely master of himself, then as at other times ; or was he, 
on the contrary, in a condition of ecstasy — in a state of passive 
subjection to a higher power, which held his own faculties in 
temporary but complete abeyance ? Interpreters and readers, 
who come to the Bible with minds full of classic lore, remember 
that the prophets and diviners of the heathen world, during 
their seasons of pretended inspiration, exhibited the signs of 
outward excitement, even amounting to insanity, and they are 
prone to seek signs of the same kind of rapture and entrance- 
ment in the Hebrew prophets. On the other hand, the early 
Christian writers, who lived in the times of paganism, speak of 
this intense and frenzied excitement as specially characteristic 
of the delusive pagan inspiration, and point with gratification 
to the contrast offered by the calmness, self-possession, and 
active intelligence of the Hebrew prophets ; and we think these 
were right. Look at the only instance in which Scripture places 
the demeanour of a prophet of the Lord in direct comparison 
with that of the heathen prophets ; and contrast the frantic 

6 Fourteenth Week— First Day. 

excitement, the leapings, and the cries of the prophets of Baal, 
with the cahn, dignified, and solemn attitude of EHjah. That 
there are instances of excitement shown under inspiration, is 
not to be denied. But too much stress has been laid upon 
these special instances ; and an eminent divine, who sees more 
of ecstatic movement in the Hebrew prophets than we are 
prepared to do, has yet supplied what appears to us the right 
rule of judgment in this case. He says : ' The state of ecstasy, 
though ranking high above the ordinary sensual existence, is 
yet not the highest, as appears from Num. xii., and the example 
of Christ, whom we never find in an ecstatical state. To the 
prophets, however, it was indispensable on account of the firailty 
of themselves and the people. This forcible working upon 
them of the Spirit of God would not have been required, if 
their general life had already been altogether holy ; for which 
reason we also find ecstasy to manifest itself the stronger the 
more the general life was ungodly ; as, for instance, in Balaam, 
when the Spirit of God came upon him,^ and in Saul, who 
throws himself upon the ground, tearing his clothes from his 
body.' With a prophet whose spiritual attainments were those 
of an Isaiah, such results are not to be expected." 

Some points of great importance are here touched by Dr. Kitto : 
prophecy, revelation, inspiration. At the commencement of Daily 
Readings from the Prophets, it is well to have clear ideas upon 
these subjects. The functions of a prophet are accurately defined ; 
but I think it right to add a note regarding revelation and inspira- 
tion. Revelation is the direct communication of divine truth to the 
mind of man. Inspiration is that operation of the Eternal Spirit 
upon man by which he is enabled to embody, in oral or written 
language, all truth intended by God for the instruction of his 
church. From this it will be seen that inspiration was required as 
well by those who received direct revelation of truth from God, as 
by those who received truth from other channds. In the former 

1 Num. xxiv. 4, 1 6. * I Sam. xix. 24. 

3 Hengstenberg, art. Prophecy, in Cyclop, of Bib, Literature. On 
the general subject, see the Introductions of Jenour, Barnes, and Alex- 
ander, to their respective commentaries on Isaiah ; also Davison's Dis- 
counts on Prophecy; Bp. Watson, Of Prophecy^ etc. 

Prophecy. 7 

case, inspiration was needed to enable the commissioned agent to 
express with perfect accuracy the truth revealed ; in the latter, to 
enable him to apprehend fully what he saw or heard, and to relate 
it faithfully, as in the case of the Gospel narratives.. Revdaticms, 
visions, doctrinal propositions, and historic facts, are all appre- 
hended by the mind of man in the same way, though they come 
through entirely different channels ; and it requires as continuous 
and as full an operation of the Divine Spirit to enable him to relate 
or record the one with perfect accuracy, as it does the other. The 
apprehension of truth is not inspiration. Inspiration comes in 
afterwards as an infallible guide to the recording of the truth. 

These remarks suggest another thought regarding the process by 
which the revelations of God have been introduced into the sphere 
of human knowledge. The internal suggestion or divine communi- 
cation which prompted or guided the utterance of the prophet, 
neither proceeded from, nor was produced by, his own natural 
powers or personal condition. In every case it was a new principle 
infused into his mind, with an energy transcending all that is human. 
It proceeded from an immediate intuition. It was the result of a 
communication from without — ^from above, and not of mere in- 
ternal reflection, or high- wrought imagination. The prophets them- 
selves had no control over it. They could neither induce nor 
repress it. When prophets, evangelists, and apostles thus spake or 
wrote, they were as fully convinced that they spake or wrote * as 
they were moved by the Holy Ghost,' as we are when we repeat the 
instructions of an earthly teacher. 

Another most important truth follows as a necessary inference. 
Inspiration is a thing altogether distinct from the ordinary opera- 
tion of the Holy Spirit on the soul of the believer. The believer, 
from the moment of conversion, is always, to a greater or less 
degree, under the influence of this natural operation of the Spirit ; 
but inspiration was only given for the purpose of coraimumcating or 
recording divine truth. Under the ordinary operation of the Spirit, 
a man is not made perfect either in knowledge or character ; but 
when gifted with the Spirit of inspiration, he was kept from all 
error, and infallibly guided into all truth, in all that he spake or 
wrote. Consequently that divine influence imder which the Bible 
has been written, and which is now technically called inspiration, 
was an agency or power absolutely unique ; it was altogether dis- 
tinct from that regenerating and sanctifying power of the Holy 
Spirit which operates upon every believer. The inspiration of the 
authors or writers of the Bible, was a power altogether objective^ 

8 Fourteenth Week — Second Day. 

and directed to supply infallible and saving truth to the church. 
The inspiration of the individual Christian, on the other hand (for 
the term is sometimes used in this sense), is altogether stibjectivey 
and directed to the moral improvement of the individual 


The greatness of Isaiah as a prophet, and his sublimity as a 
poet, may well awaken a strong desire to be acquainted with his 
history, and even to realize some idea of his person. We may 
acknowledge that there is no individual named in the Old 
Testament whom we should more desire to see ; and one day 
we hope to see him. This desire is less strongly felt in regard 
to those whose personal history and trials the Scripture brings 
before us ; not because they are less interesting, but because, as 
we read, we form to ourselves an idea of their persons, and with 
the image thus furnished, we are, for the most part, satisfied. 
But it is not so with men known chiefly for greatness of thought 
and utterance, with which the mind can of itself associate no 
personal ideas. If the incidents of their career and the details 
of their personal conduct are too few to suggest a notion, right 
or wrong, of their persons, we feel more strongly, than in the 
case of men of action, the need of some description or revelation 
concerning them, such as may supply that which the mind is 
unable to furnish from its own resources. 

This being the class of persons we most desire to behold, 
Isaiah, as the first of that class in the Old Testament — ^highest 
in inspiration, grandest in utterance, and most powerful in his 
hold upon the minds of those conversant with his soul — ^is the 
one whom we may most wish to see face to face. That hope 
we must dismiss for the present ; for there is no physiognomy 
in the few facts we know of him. 

Isaiah was the son of Amoz. There was a remarkable 
prophet called Amos, and in regard to time, Isaiah might have 

Isaiah. 9 

been his son. But it was not so. There is an essential 
difference in the names, which common readers may be apt to 
overlook. The prophet's name is Amoj, whereas the name of 
Isaiah's father is Amojs: or Amot?. This is too plain to be' dis- 
puted 3 yet some of the Jewish rabbinical interpreters still make 
out a prophetical descent for Isaiah, in accordance with their 
own singular canon, that when the father of a prophet is named, 
the father was himself a prophet. The ancient Jews, however, 
were not behind the modems in the desire to find an illustrious 
birth for men of intellectual or spiritual greatness — as if such 
greatness were not in itself enough, or as if high birth could in 
any degree enhance it. Genius — to use the conventional word 
for God's greatest gift — is indeed often associated with high 
rank ; but in that union, it is not rank that honours genius, but 
genius that glorifies rank. It has thus been sought to be made 
out that Isaiah was even of royal birth ; but for this there is 
nothing better than a rabbinical tradition, which affirms that he 
was the son of Amoz, a brother of king Amaziah. The tradition 
seems to have been formed to account better for the high stand- 
ing of the prophet in the court of king Hezekiah. But it is 
possible to furnish a reason for the high estimation in which a 
prophet, so honoured of God as Isaiah, was held by so pious a 
king as Hezekiah, without resorting to such an explanation, — 
which is even without so much foundation in probability as 
might be found in the fact that the king had a brother called 
Amos ; for this also is a pure conjecture. Under such con- 
jectures, we might make of biography, and of history too, any- 
thing we please; and the comparatively austere but needful 
rules of modem criticism will not admit them for a moment. 
It seems clear that Isaiah was a native of the kingdom of Judah ; 
and that his ordinary abode was at Jemsalem, is evident from 
several passages of his prophecies, from which it also appears 
that he was married, that two sons were bom to him in the 
"iign of Ahaz, and that he gave names to them symbolical of 
important future events in the history of the^ 

The prophetic career of Isaiah seems to have covered a lai^e 

* Isa. vii. 3, viii. I, 3, 4. 

lo Fourteenth Week — Second Day. 

and interesting portion of historical time. The introductory 
verse describes him as prophesying in the reigns of Uzziah, 
Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. The vision in chap. vL, ndiich 
has every appearance of having been his introduction to the 
prophetic office, is dated ^ in the year that king Uzziah died.' 
It has, however, been inferred that Isaiah had for some time 
previously been engaged in public affairs, as it is expressly 
stated in 2 Chron. xxvi. 22, that he composed the complete 
annals of Uzziah's reign. The force of this conclusion is not 
very manifest, as it is by no means necessary that a historian 
should take part in, or even be contemporary with, the events 
he records. There is, however, no reason to doubt that he was 
of adult age when called to the prophetic office in the last year 
of Uzziah's reign. We have, further, an explicit historical 
statement, that he was engaged in his high work till the fif- 
teenth year of Hezekiah, when he was charged with a message 
to that king concerning the reception he had given to the am- 
bassadors irom Babylon. Isaiah xxxix. Uzziah died in 759 
B.C., and the fifteenth year of Hezekiah coincides with 712 B.C. 
It is therefore certain that, on the lowest computation, Isaiah 
exercised the prophetic office for forty-seven years, — ^being 
one year under Uzziah, sixteen years under Jotham, the same 
under Ahaz, and fifteen years under Hezekiah. But it is pro- 
bable that he lived much longer. In 2 Chron. xxxii. 32, it is 
declared that * the rest of the acts of Hezekiah' were written 
*in the vision of Isaiah;' which appears to imply that he sur- 
vived the king, and wrote the acts of his reign up to his death. 
As Hezekiah Uved fourteen or fifteen years after the above cir- 
cumstance, this would enlarge Isaiah's public career to sixty- 
one or sixty-two years. If he survived Hezekiah, he probably 
lived some time into the reign of Manasseh. The supposition 
is confirmed, not by any direct scriptural evidence, but by all the 
traditional accounts which have been handed down to us, which 
allege that he was put to death in the time of Manasseh l^v 
being sawn asunder. If this be true, and supposing him to 
have been not more than twenty-five years old when he began 
to exercise the high functions to which he had been called, be 

Isaiah. 1 1 

could not well have been less than ninety years of age at the 
time of his death — ^probably rather more than less. 

The common Jewish account is, that the ofifence alleged 
against the aged prophet was that he had said he had seen 
Jehovah ; for which it was urged that he ought to die, in ac- 
cordance with Exodus xxxiii. 20, 'There shall no man see me 
and live.' But we doubt whether this peculiarly rabbinical 
mode of forcing the sense of Scripture had such early origin; 
and of all the kings that ever reigned, Manasseh seems to have 
been least likely to seek the real or supposed sanction of the 
law for his proceedings. The idolatrous abominations of that 
king could hardly fail to draw forth an indignant protest from 
the venerable prophet, if then ahve; and in that case, it is 
scarcely probable that so fearless and authoritative a witness 
against iniquity in high places, would escape sharing the doom 
of tibe numerous worthy victims, whose innocent blood filled the 
streets of Jerusalem. The testimony of JosepHus, also, points 
in this direction, when he says, that Manasseh 'barbarously 
slew all the righteous men that were among the Hebrews ; nor 
would he spare the prophets, for he evary day slew some of 
them, till Jerusalem wisis overflowed with innocent blood.' 

That Isaiah was sawn asunder, as the Jews allege, we should 
have been inclined to doubt, on die ground that there does not 
appear to have been any such mode of inflicting the punishment 
of death among this people. But St. Paul, in the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, counts being 'sawn asunder' among the deaths to 
which the ancient saints had been subjected : and as Isaiah is 
the only one to whom this death has been ascribed, it seems 
likely that the traditional memory of the fact existed in the 
time of the apostle, who thus gives to it his inspired sanction. 
It is, therefore, a point which we shall not question, although 
it cannot positively be affirmed as a fact, any more than the 
statement that this dreadful death was inflicted with a wooden 
saw in order to increase the torture and protract the agony. 

We are further told that the corpse of this chief of prophets 
was buried hard by Jerusalem, under the Fuller's Oak, near the 
Fountain of Silo^n ; whence it was in a later age r^noved to 

12 Fourteenth Week — Third Day. 

Paneas, near the sources of the Jordan ; and that it was eventu- 
ally transferred, in a.d. 404, to Constantinople. But in all this 
there is nothing on which we can rely. 

This is all that history knows, and all that tradition pretends 
to know, of the life, the death, and the sepulture of Isaiah. 

J^0urttjent|^ M^^h— SDj^irb gag. 

Isaiah's prophecies. — isaiah i. i. 

Although all the prophets were moved by the same Spirit, 
they were men of different characters, and of different natural 
gifts and attainments. This appears not only in so much of 
their personal history and sentiments as can be gathered from 
their books, but also in the style and manner of their utter- 

The prophecies of Isaiah are eminently sublime and magni- 
ficent, not only in their style and expression, but in their objects; 
and these together have directed more attention to this book, 
among both Jews and Christians, than to any other in the pro- 
phetical Scriptures. It has the very important distinction, of 
being more frequently quoted in the New Testament than any 
other of the sacred books, excepting only the Psalms ; and the 
direct manner in which the divinely inspired writer speaks of 
the Messiah — ^his birth, his sufferings, and his kingdom — has 
even rendered his prophecies of eminent service in establishing 
the conviction that the Lord Jesus was He of whom the pro- 
phets spoke. Nor can we doubt that He often referred to 
Isaiah, when He opened the understandings of the disciples at 
Emmaus, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said 
unto them, * Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to 
suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.' Luke xxiv. 
45, 46. It is especially this distinction which has procured for 
Isaiah the title of * the evangelical prophet,' for which he is in- 
debted probably to Jerome, who says that Isaiah was not only 
a prophet, but more than a prophet — even an evangelist ; and 

Isaiahs Prophecies, 1 3 

declares that so distinct were his predictions, that he seems to 
speak rather of things past than of things to come. He even 
calls Isaiah an apostle : and, indeed, there is no portion of 
Scripture which so distinctly connects the Old Testament with 
the New. Another (Eusebius) calls Isaiah the greatest of the 
prophets ; and the Jews themselves designate him as ' the great 

Bishop Lowth was the first to point out that the prophetical 
books are essentially poetical ; and that, with the exception of 
portions which, if brought together, would not exceed the bulk 
of five or six chapters, the book of Isaiah is poetry of the highest 
order. It is to him also that we owe the first clear account of 
Isaiah's style, although it had been, before his time, highly ex- 
tolled by Grotius, Sanctius, Bossuet, Fenelon, and others. The 
first of these compares Isaiah with Demosthenes, and declares 
that he finds in the former the utmost force and purity of the 
Hebrew tongue, as he finds in the latter the utmost delicacy 
and purity of the Attic language. Both are grand and magni- 
ficent in their style, vehement in their movements, copious in 
their figures, forcible and impetuous whenever they would ex- 
cite to indignation or strive to render a thing odious.^ To 
many, that will seem faint praise which merely equals the style 
of the Hebrew prophet with that of the first of uninspired 
speakers. But we are to remember that it is of style only 
that Grotius speaks. 

Sanctius expresses himself more warmly ; for he finds that 
Isaiah is more flowery, more ornate, and at the same time 
more grave and more energetic, than any writer known, 
whether historian, or poet, or orator. 

But let us come to Lowth, who speaks of Isaiah in this 
strain : * Isaiah, the first of the prophets, both in order and 
dignity, abounds in such transcendent excellences, that he 
may properly be said to furnish the most perfect model of 
prophetic poetry. He is at once eloquent and sublime, forcible 
and ornamented; he unites energy with copiousness, and dignity 
with variety. In his sentiments there is uncommon elevation 

^ Grotius, Comment in 4 Reg. xix. 2. 

14 Fourteenth Week — Third Day. 

and majesty ; in his imagery, the utmost propriety ; and, not- 
withstanding the obscurity of his subjects, a surprising degree 
of clearness and simplicity.' 

We will add to these the opinion of some modem continental 
writers, who have studied this matter closely, and whose views 
regarding it are entitled to a degree of respectful attention 
which, on more essential points, it might not be safe to con- 
cede to them. 

One of them^ is unwilling to admit that there is anything 
in Isaiah to he compared, in sublimity of poetry, to the noble 
hymn of Habakkuk; but, apart from this, he allows that he 
finds in the prophecies of Isaiah all that belongs to poetry 
of the highest order, and what is rarely to be found in Oriental 
poesy. The same critic assures us that, as well in regard to 
style and imagery, as to plan, execution, and poetic imagina- 
tion, the utterances of the son of Amoz may rank with the 
finest prophetical pieces, and the most magnificent canticles 
of the Old Testament. His style is always in perfect harmony 
with the objects he describes, and varies as the subjects vary. 
If he makes a recital, it is with a natural simplicity, in which 
the skill of the writer is felt, but not seen. When he exhorts 
or rebukes, his invectives are piercing, and his aspect is terrible. 
When he casts his prophetic glance forward to happier times, 
his genius seems to struggle with his subject for the invention 
of images more beautiful, and comparisons more just. The 
vision of his call to the prophetic ministry (chap, vi.) presents 
to us an admirable picture, in which all the details are traced 
with the noblest and richest colours, and the charm of which 
is enhanced by the majestic simplicity of the elocution. In 
the first chapter, taking the tone of exhortation, it does not 
suit the prophet to pour out all the fulness of his spirit, or to 
allow the flame of his imagination to be fully kindled. He 
therefore contents himself with groans and sighs over the 
bleeding wounds and sore afflictions of his people, to whom 
he points out the way of healing and of life. But with what 
admirable address his colours are changed when he under- 

1 EiCHHORK, Einieiiungy iv. % 533. 

Isaiah's PropJiecies. 1 5 

takes to depict the glory and blessedness of the Messiah's 
reign ! Raised above the earth and the mortals who inhabit 
it, he beholds a new heaven and a new earth. The ancient 
traditions of his people assume, beneath his hand, a beauty and 
majesty which cas't the reader into a sublime delight. But his 
chief merit, and that which gives him a marked pre-eminence 
over the poets of the East, is the admirable precision of his 
expressions, the richness of his imagery, and the perfect con- 
totu* of his periods. These qualities are remarkably united 
in his first chapter. He brings to a happy conclusion all that 
he commences ; and in whatever edifice he 'raises, every stone 
is fairly placed upon the foundation he has laid. He rushes 
not precipitately from one subject to another, and under his 
hand ever3^ing takes a proper form and order. Thus, every 
image has all the finish and development which the circum- 
stances require; and the antitheses, skilfully produced, form 
one of the finest features of the pictures he presents. If, for 
example, he sets before us, on one side, fields given to the flames 
by the enemy whom God has sent in his anger ; he depicts, on 
the other, the Israelites redeemed from oppression, seated in 
the midst of the abundance and exuberance of a rich and fertile 
soil. So, if in the days of corruption he shows us the hands of 
the wicked stained with blood and polluted by carnage, he 
fails not to contrast this with the time of repentance, when the 
spectacle of scarlet crime becomes, under the tears of contri- 
tion, pure as snow and white as wool. When, in his moral 
discourses, the prophet dwells longer on the same subjects, 
he expresses, at first, all his theme in a figurative style, and 
then explains it more clearly in the proper sense, — a process 
admirably suited to win and detain the attention of the reader. 
Another writer,^ some of whose works are better known in 
this country, declares that the diction of the prophecies of 
Isaiah surpasses in beauty, as well as in sublimity, not only 
Hosea and Micah,' but all the other prophets, and in some 
parts scarcely pelds to the poetry of Moses and of Job. The 
design with Isaiah is beautiful, and the execution excellent. 

>- Jahn, Einleitung in das AUb Test. 

1 6 Fourteenth Week — Third Day, 

The images are clearly presented under the most natural 
colours. But that which claims our special admiration, is the 
rich variety in the traits ; and even in those which recur often, 
as in the pictures of the golden age to come, every one has 
something particular by which it is more specially marked, and 
in which it differs from all the others. As to the language of 
Isaiah, a purity, constantly sustained, forms one of its principal 
characteristics. The style, always lively and animated, takes 
all the colours which present themselves to the pencil of the 
poet. It is thus that he is subtile and sublime in his promises, 
severe and vehement in his threatenings, mild and tender in 
his consolations, and earnest in his instructions. Lastly, there 
is something, a certain harmony, in the language of this prophet, 
which charms the ear by its agreeable rhythmical cadence. 

Another German author^ of high name, acknowledges that 
the whole of the book that bears the name of Isaiah is, in a 
literary point of view, far above all praise. The prophecies of 
Isaiah, he says, take their place among the finest compositions 
of the golden age of Hebrew poetry. They consist, for the 
most part, of prophetic discourses. But that which renders 
them beyond expression admirable, is a weighty style, full of 
force and dignity, abundant in images, and replete with rich 
thoughts, which the sacred writer produces with the most exqui- 
site tact. He likes antitheses and paronomasias, and sometimes 
delights to mingle them together so as marvellously to enhance 
the effect. If he often repeats the same image, he knows how 
to vary it each time, by always giving to it a new turn, often by 
the substitution of metaphorical for literal expression. 

Another^ declares that * Isaiah stands pre-eminent above all 
other prophets, as well in the contents and spirit of his pre- 
dictions, as in their form and style. Simplicity, clearness, 
sublimity, and freshness, are the never-failing characteristics 
of his prophecies. ... In reference to richness of imagery, 
he stands between Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Symbolic actions, 
which frequently occur in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, are seldom 

1 Gesenius, Der Prophet Jesaia, ii. 53-55. 

2 Hengstenberg, art. Isaiah, in the Cyclop, of Biblical Literature, 

Isaiah's Prophecies. 1 7 

found in Isaiah. The same is the case with visions, strictly 
so called, of which there is only one, that in chapter sixth ; and 
even this is distinguished by its simplicity and clearness above 
that of the later prophets. But one characteristic of Isaiah is, 
that he likes to give signs — that is, a fact then present or near 
at hand — ^as a pledge for the more distant futurity ; and that 
he thus supports the feebleness of man. The spiritual riches 
of the prophet are seen in the variety of his style, which always 
befits his subject. When he rebukes and threatens, it is like a 
storm ; and when he comforts, his language is as tender and 
mild as (to use his own words) that of a mother comforting 
her son. With regard to style, Isaiah is comprehensive, and 
the other prophets divide his riches.' 

After this solid weight of testimony, we are tempted to add 
a few lines from Gilfillan's sparkling tribute to the great 
prophet: *The uniform grandeur, the pomp of diction, the 
almost painful richness of figure, distinguishing this prophet, 
would have lessened his power over the common Christian 
mind, had it not been for the evangelical sentiment in which 
his strains abound, and which has gained him the name of the 
Fifth Evangelist Many bear with Milton solely for his reli- 
gion. It is the same with IsaiaJi. The cross stands in the 
painted window of his style. His stateliest figure bows before 
Messiah's throne. An eagle of the sun, his nest is in Calvary. 
Anticipating the homage of the eastern sages, he spreads out 
before the infant God treasures of gold, frankincense, and 
m)aTh. The gifts are rare and costly, but not too precious 
to be ofi"ered to such a Being : they are brought from far; but 
He has come ferther " to seek and to save that which was 

Of all critics, Ewald appears to have apprehended and delineated 
in the fullest and clearest manner, the leading literary character- 
istics of Isaiah's writings. In Isaiah we see prophetic authorship 
reaching its culminating point. Everything conspired to raise him 
to an elevation to which no prophet, either before or after, could, as 
a writer, attain. Among the other prophets, each of the more im- 
portant ones is distinguished by some one particular excellence, and 


i8 Fourteenth Week — Fourth Day. 

some one peculiar talent ; in Isaiah, all kinds of talent and all 
beauties of prophetic discourse meet together, so as mutually to 
temper and qualify each other : it is not so much any single feature 
that distinguishes him, as the symmetry and perfection of the whole. 
* We cannot in the case of Isaiah, as in that of other prophets, 
specify any particular peculiarity, or any favourite colour as attach- 
ing to his general style. He is not the especially lyrical prophet, or 
the especially elegiacal prophet, or the especially oratorical and 
hortatory prophet, as we should describe a Joel, a Rosea, a Micah, 
with whom there is a greater prevalence of some particular colour ; 
but just as the subject requires, he has readily at command every 
several kind of style, and every several change of delineation ; and 
it is precisely this that, in point of language, establishes his great- 
ness, as well as in general forms one of his most towering points of 
excellence. His only fundamental peculiarity is the lofty, majestic 
calmness of hisr style, proceeding out of the perfect command which 
he feels he possesses over his subject-matter. .... His discourse 
varies into every complexion : it is tender and stem, didactic and 
threatening, mourning, and again excelling in divine joy, mocking 
and earnest ; but ever at the right time it returns back to its 
original elevation and repose, and never loses the clear ground- 
colour of its divine seriousness.' {Propheten^ i. i66 seq.) 


In the first chapter of Isaiah occurs this remarkable passage, 
in which the prophet symbolically expresses the corrupt con- 
dition of man's nature : *Why should ye be stricken any more? 
ye will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and 
the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the 
head, there is no soundness in it ; but wounds, and bruises, and 
putrifying sores : they have not been closed, neither bound up, 
neither mollified with ointment.' 

The external character of the disorders here employed to 
express a generally diseased condition, together with the en- 
tirely outward character of the remedies, tends to suggest some 

Medicine. 1 9 

considerations respecting the practice of the Hebrews in the 
treatment of diseases. This seems to have been in a very rude 
state, as it still is in the East, and to have been among them 
scarcely less distinguished from the ancient Egyptian and 
Greek practice, than from that of modem Europe. The Egyp- 
tians certainly had made great advances in medical knowledge ; 
but it appears wrong to cite their knowledge in illustration of 
Scripture, unless in those places where Egyptian physicians and 
Eg3^tian remedies are expressly mentioned. 

It appears, then, that among the Hebrews, as among all 
nations in the early stage of medical practice, attention was 
in a great degree confined to outward applications, and what 
we should now call surgical practice ; and the present text is 
among those which show that, down to a comparatively late 
period, external maladies were the chief subjects of medical 
treatment among the Israelites. Perhaps this was partly 
founded upon the notion, still very prevalent in the East, that 
outward complaints are more within the reach of human skill, 
but that internal disorders, being inscrutable in their nature, 
must needs be left to the mercy of God. 

But let us look to the text before us. The three words 
translated * wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores,' express 
well enough the distinction of terms conveyed in the original. 
The first signifies an open wound, or cut from which the blood 
flows. The word rendered * bruises,' denotes a contusion, or 
the effect of a blow where the skin is not broken, — ^in short, 
such a contusion as produces swelling and discoloration. And 
by the term translated * putrifying sores,' is rather to be under- 
stood recent or fresh wounds, or perhaps running wounds, 
which continue fresh and open, and cannot be cicatrized or 
dried up. The prophet's images all refer to the surgical treat- 
ment of these wounds, without any allusion to the internal 
remedies which, in modem practice, generally accompany 
exterior applications. Here the neglect of all proper means of 
healing is simply expressed by the woimds not having been 
* dosed,' — that is, the lips of the wound had not been pressed 
together to remove the blood from the wound, that cohesion 

20 Fourteenth Week — Fourth Day. 

might the sooner take place. There was, and is, no sewing up 
of wounds in the East; and hence the edges, healing without 
being perfectly united, make the scar of a wound more con- 
spicuous and disfiguring than with us. The only attempt to 
produce cohesion is by * binding up' the wound, after the 
edges have been as far as possible * closed' by simple pressure. 
The binding up, however, seems to apply to all these maladies ; 
as does also, perhaps, the * mollifying with ointment,' or more 
exactly, with * oil,' — ^that is, olive oil, which in Scripture is fre- 
quently mentioned as thus employed ; and at the present day 
in Syria, a mixture of oil and melted grease is much used for 
the healing of wounds. 

The nature of the maladies chiefly brought under considera- 
tion, suggests just the kind of remedies which we find specified 
in Scripture, such as oils, salves, particularly balms, plasters, 
and poultices ; to which we may add, from Josephus, oil and 
mineral baths. 

The mention of 'physicians' in some texts of later Scripture, 
is somewhat apt to mislead the uninquiring, who do not reflect 
that this was the general term for those who professed the 
healing art in ancient times, whether by external or internal 
applications — the professions of the physician and the surgeon 
not being distinguished as with us in modem times. Never- 
theless, it is clear that physicians were in later times more 
firequently consulted than of old ; and it is certain that at an 
earlier date, remedies for internal and even mental disorders 
were not altogether wanting -^ but it does not appear that much 
progress was ever attained in this branch of the healing art 
Indeed, fi*om the information we can gather from the Talmud, 
and other old Jewish writings, it would appear that their prac- 
tice was of a very simple character, and such as our old 
herbalists might have been disposed to recommend. These 
intimations mostly occur in the indication of things that may 
or may not be done on the Sabbath-day, thus : * It is unlawfiil 
to eat Greek hyssop on the Sabbath, because it is not food fit 
for healthy persons ; but a man may eat wild rosemary, and 

1 2 Chron. xvi. 12 ; I Sam. xvi. l6. 

Medicine. 2 1 

drink bloom of the herbs. ^ A man may eat any kind of food 
as medicine, and drink any kind of beverage, except water of 
trees,* and of cos ikharim^ as these are only remedies for the 
jaundice ; but a man may drink the water of trees for thirst ; 
and may anoint himself with the oil of ikharim^ but not as a 
remedy. He who has the toothache must not rinse his mouth 
with vinegar, but he may wash the teeth as usual ; and if he 
gets cured, he does get cured. He who has pains in the loins 
must not rub them with wine or vinegar ; he may, however, 
anoint them with any kind of oil except rose-oil. Princes may 
anoint (dress) their wounds with rose-oil, as they are in the 
habit of anointing themselves with it on other days.' 

Amulets were also, it seems, nearly as much in use among 
the Jews as they are still among the Orientals. Their character 
may be shown from the Talmud. * It is permitted (even on 
the Sabbath) to go out with the egg of a grasshopper, or the 
tooth of a fox, or the nail of one who has been hanged, as 
medicinal remedies.* It appears, however, that strict persons 
discouraged such practices as belonging to * the ways of the 

A few details of modem practice in the same country may 
indicate the correspondence of facts to which we have more 
than once referred. There is no medical education, properly 
so called, in Sjrria ; and any one who likes is quite at liberty, 
at any time, to forsake a less noble calling for the healing art. 
Any individual, high or low, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, 
may set up as a practitioner at any moment . Almost innume- 
rable are the cases in which poor tradesmen, mechanics, and 
farmers, suddenly conceiving the idea of practising medicine, 
buy a lancet, or grind an old knife-blade into the shape of one, 
and give themselves out as doctors ; and, strange to say, all of 
them find more or less encouragement. Incapacity to read or 

' Some plant used as an antidote against pernicious liquors. 

2 Meaning water from a spring between two trees, the first draught of 
which was believed to promote digestion, the second to be laxative, and the 
third an emetic. 

3 A mucilage of pulverized herbs and gum in wine. 

22 Fourteenth Week — Fourth Day. 

write, forms no impediment to becoming a physician ; and we 
find many of these vain pretenders going about bleeding and 
administering medicines, from simple coloured water to power- 
ful elaterium. 

The ideas of even the best informed physicians are a strange 
mixture of fancies and absurdities. Persons labouring under 
fever are carefully deprived of cooling drinks ; but animal broths, 
jellies, sweetmeats, walnuts, hazel-nuts, almonds, and such like 
articles, are freely allowed. Pomegranates and raw quinces aj-e 
considered as highly beneficial in such cases, and are much 
sought after.^ Our physicians check the disposition of the 
patient to eat ; but the Syrian physician holds that if the patient 
do not eat, he must certainly die ; and so, various st^ws, jellies, 
soups, and mixtures of animal and vegetable food are prepared 
in order to induce a loathing stomach to take something 
nourishing ; while at the same time, unirritating articles of diet, 
such as sago, arrow-root, gruels, and other farinaceous prepara- 
tions, are utterly unknown. 

Very few of the physicians have the slightest idea of the true 
anatomical structure of the human frame ; and from this the 
most serious mistakes result as to the seat and nature of internal 
disorders. The only difference known between arteries and 
veins is, that the former pulsate, and the latter do not. There 
is, in fact, a superstitious horror in regard to mutilating the dead, 
which opposes an insimnountable obstacle to the dissections 
and post-mortem examinations, through which alone an adequate 
knowledge of anatomy and of the nature of diseases can be 
acquired. Neither does it appear that the Hebrews were in 
the habit of opening dead bodies to ascertain the cause of death, 
though we know that the Egyptians were ; and their practice of 
embalmment must have given them much anatomical knowledge. 
Some traces of such knowledge may, however, be found in Job 
x. lo, II, and some other passages. 

The ancient confidence of the Orientals in charms and amulets 
is not at all diminished in the present age. Women and children 

1 Quinces are hawked about the streets "with the following cry: 'Cure 
your sick one— quinces.* 

Medicine. 23 

have usually a blue bead or other ornament suspended over the 
forehead, just at the parting of the hair, or a string of blue beads 
about the neck, to ward off the effects of the evil eye. Horses, 
cows, and other domestic animals, have also frequently a blue 
bead, or a small piece of notched wood ; and even fruit-trees 
and vines are often daubed with a streak of blue as a safeguard 
against the same evil influence. Among other ridiculous notions, 
it is held that the windpipe of a wolf will infallibly cure the 
mumps if hung around the patient's neck. The greatest reliance 
is, however, placed on written charms. A large majority of all 
classes and ages have usually some paper, or image, or relic 
about the person, which confers many imaginary benefits and 
averts many evils ; and, during illness, various charms of this 
nature are employed, by both patient and physician, in order to 
enhance the effect of the remedies used. 

It is a doctrine strenuously maintained by the physicians, and 
implicitly received by all classes, that catarrhal and pulmonary 
complaints are contagious. Hence, no one will smoke of the 
same pipe (otherwise usual in the East), or drink from the same 
vessel, with one labouring under a cold, for fear of catching it. 
Small-pox is believed to be communicated by a glance of the 
eye, and, consequently, persons affected by it are secluded from 
view as carefully as possible. 

Of chemistry, Syro-Arabic science is wholly ignorant. A few 
of the most common mineral substances are, however, used in 
medicine ; but by far the greater part of the remedies employed 
is drawn from the vegetable kingdom. Yet botany, as a science, 
is as little known as chemistry. Plants are known only by 
names, not by qualities ; and, as names vary with localities, 
much uncertainty and confusion arises from this source. 

Bleeding is employed on nearly all occasions with a freedom 
and recklessness which would appal a European surgeon. This 
is done even when no disorder calls for it, under the view of its 
being a beneficial relief to the system. We have known cases 
of native gentlemen bled periodically by their own servants, 
without the intervention of any medical practitioner. Scarifica- 
tion with a razor is much used in all cases of tumours ; and 

24 Fourteenth Week — Fifth Day. 

cupping is sometimes practised after a rude fashion. But burn- 
ing by actual cautery is almost as frequent as bleeding. It is 
performed with a common iron nail, or a piece of wire ; or 
%hted touchwood is laid upon the part and suffered to bum 
out It is resorted to for the most trifling complaints, and 
scarcely an individual can be found who has not a lesser or 
greater number of cicatrices from this cause. 

The connection between barbers and surgeons in the East 
is not yet altogether dissolved ; and the members of that which 
is, widi us, a decayed profession, still bleed, leech, cauterize, 
draw teeth, and perform sundry other operations connected with 
the chirurgical art Physicians, so called, confine themselves 
to the practice of medicine \ but those who pass for suigeons 
act in either capacity /n? re natd. The natives have, however, 
a superstitious dread of all surgical operations, especially such 
as mutilate the body, and often prefer death to undergoing them. 
Hence it is rare to see in the East a man who has lost a leg or 
an arm. The accident or malady, which with us involves no 
greater loss, is death to an Oriental 

^^mxitmi\ M^-ek— Jfift§r gag* 


In the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus, there is a minute account 
of an interesting ceremonial prescribed for -the great Day of 
Atonement. Two goats were to be taken and presented before 
the Lord. Then a lot was to be cast — * one lot for the Lord, 
and the other lot for the scape-goat.' The goat upon which 
the former lot fell, was to be offered in sacrifice for a sin-offering; 
and the other goat was to be * presented alive before the Lord, 
to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scape- 
goat into the wilderness.' 

There has been much learned discussion respecting the * scape- 
goat ;' but into this we mean not to enter, as we refer to the 
ceremonial only for the sake of a particular circumstance, which 

Scarlet Sins. 25 

is, however, not reported in the sacred text of the law, but is 
among the additional particulars transmitted by the early rab- 
binical writers, who may be presumed to have known what the 
actual practice was, at least in the shape which that ceremonial 
eventually assumed. These authorities inform us that, when 
the lot had been taken, the high priest fastened a long narrow 
fillet of scarlet to the head of the scape-goat ; and that, after he 
had, as the law directed, confessed his own sins and the sins of 
the people over its head, or (for we are not quite certain as to 
the point of time) just before the goat was finally dismissed, the 
fillet changed its scarlet colour to white, if the atonement were 
accepted by the Lord, but if not, it retained its scarlet hue. It 
is to this that the Jewish interpreters understand Isaiah to allude, 
when he says, in the text before us : * Though your sins be as 
scarlet, they shall be as white as snow : though they be red like 
crimson, they shall be as wool.' 

After the confession over the head of this goat, the animal 
was consigned to the charge of a trusty person, previously ap- 
pointed, who conveyed it away into the wilderness. There, as 
we should have understood the text (Lev. xvi. 22), the goat 
was to be set fi-ee, bearing upon him all the iniquities that had 
been confessed over his head, * unto a land not inhabited.' But 
the Rabbins say it was not so. They tell us that, under the temple 
ritual, the goat was taken away to a place about twelve miles 
from Jerusalem, where there was a formidable rocky precipice ; 
on arriving at which the animal was cast down from the summit, 
and, by knocking against the projecting points of the cliff, was 
usually dashed to pieces before it had half reached the bottom. 
It is added, that the result of this execution was speedily made 
known by signals, raised at proper distances, to the people, who 
were anxiously awaiting the event at the temple. -It is also 
said that a scarlet fillet, fastened at the entrance of the temple, 
turned white at the same instant of time, in token of the divine 
acceptance of the expiation which had been ofiisred. We do not 
clearly understand whether this latter change of colour in the 
scarlet fillet is intended to be represented as additional to the 
one which had previously taken place, or that the two are 

26 Fourteenth Week — Fifth Day. 

different accounts of a single change. Perhaps the change said 
to have taken place in the fillet attached to the goat's homs 
occurred at the moment of precipitation, and then a correspond- 
ing change took place in the fillet at the temple. It is added, 
that this miracle ceased forty years before the destruction of the 
temple. However understood, it is a singular fact that the Jews 
themselves should thus assign the cessation of the alleged 
miracle to a date coinciding with the death of Christ — ^an event 
usually regarded by Christians as having been prefigured by 
atoning sacrifices, which they believe to have been done away 
with by that final consummation and fulfilment of sacrificial 
institutions. Thus, according to the account of the Jews them- 
selves, the usual signs of the acceptance of the blood of bulls 
and goats, as an atonement for sins, were from that time with- 

The colours mentioned in the text, * scarlet ' and * crimson,' 
claim a moment's consideration. 

* Scarlet ' is often associated with purple and blue in Scrip- 
ture; and was a bright red colour highly esteemed by the 
ancients. It was sought after and worn by princes, and occa- 
sionally by the rich. It is mentioned to the honour of Saul, 
that he clothed the daughters of Israel in scarlet. 2 Sam. i. 24. 
The idea of dignity associated with this colour, is still pre- 
served in some parts in the East. In Persia, for instance, a 
scarlet outer coat or mantle is the distinction of a khan or 
noble. But we need not go to the East for illustration, as there 
is no people in the world who attach such pre-eminence to this 
colour as we do. Besides being the military colour with us, the 
robes of our peers, of the chiefs of the law, of doctors in all the 
faculties, and of the principal civic functionaries — mayors and 
aldermen — are all of scarlet. It is worthy of note, however, 
that the colour was not exactly the same with our present 
* scarlet,' which, moreover, is not the colour our translators had 
in view in their use of the term. It was rather a deep red or 
vermilion, approaching to a bright rich crimson. Accordingly, 
sacred poesy identifies it with the hue of a woman's lips : ' Thy 
lips are like a thread of scarlet ' (Sol. Song iv. 3) ; — and this 

Scarlet Sins. 


was the colour intended by our translators, for the present 
' scarlet ' was not known in their time. 

The 'scarlet' intended in Scripture was obtained from the 
female or grub of an vaxxXicocus ilicis) of the same family as the 
cochineal {coats cactus), by which it has now been superseded for 
European use, although still employed in Persia and India. It 
attains the size and fonn of a pea, is of a violet black colour, 
covered with a whitish powder, adhering to plants, chiefly 
various species of oak, and so closely 
resembling grains or berries, that its 
insect nature was not known for many 
centuries. All the ancients concur in 
describing the dye as obtained from 
a sort of small berries which were 
gathered from the holm oak. They 
not only call them berries, but speak 
of them as the product of the oak 
itself The tree is common in the 
Levant, and is also found in Spain. 
In Palestine it is chiefly found in the 
Quercus coccifrra, or kermes oak. It 
was not until the middle ages that 

the insect character of this product became known, and then 
the colour acquired the name of vermiculata, a term preserved 
essentially in our ■vermilion. 

The word translated ' crimson ' in this verse, is but another 
word for this same ' scarlet ;' it being a usage of Hebrew poetry 
to give intensity of expression by repeating the same idea, with 
sHght variation of phrase. If we had two words for the same 
colour, the effect of the original would have been best pre- 
served by employing them ; but as that is not the case, and the 
repetition of the same word in both clauses would have been 
awkward, it would, perhaps, have been better to use the more 
nearly allied terms, ' scarlet' and ' vermilion,' than ' scarlet' and 
'crimson.' A recent commentator' is altogether wrong in say- 
ing that the ' crimson' of this text is the same word usually 
' Barnes' Nates on Isaiah. 

28 Fourteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

rendered ' blue.' For blue there is a very diflferent word in the 
Hebrew. But he is right in his observation, that the scarlet 
was regarded as the most fast or fixed of colours : ' Neither 
dew, nor rain, nor washing, nor long use could remove it' 
Hence it is used to represent the /Exf/v or permanency of sins in 
the heart. No human means will wash them out No efforts 
of man, no external rites, no tears, nor sacrifices, nor prayers, 
are of themselves sufficient to take them away. They are 
deeply fixed in the heart, as the scarlet colour was in the web 
of cloth, and an almighty power is needfiil to remove them. 
The prophet means to say, that although they are thus fixed 
and immovable by any human means, yet the mercy of God 
can take away all the stains. 

Jf0ttrt^jeni|^ Wjt^ — ^ij^ gag-* 


The third chapter of Isaiah contains a remarkable enumeration 
of the articles which composed the dress of a Hebrew lady of 
fashion in the time of the prophet One would think that this 
ought to enable us to form a distinct conception of the garb in 
which women of quality appeared, which would be valuable in 
many respects, as enabling us to form an idea of the aspect 
which raiment gave to those of whom we read so much. It 
might even be supposed that a clever artist would find no diffi- 
culty in combining such minute particulars into a pictorial re- 
presentation of a female Israelite in all her dress and ornaments. 
But this has never been done, though we dare say it has often 
been attempted. The fact is, there are two serious difficulties 
in the task. One is, the uncertainty which interpreters feel, in 
the absence of the material facts, as to the meaning of the terms 
employed ; and the other, the want of pictured representations 
of this dress, from monuments, or the dress of any near or 
kindred nation, which might help to the identification of the 
particulars. It is true, there are abundant Egyptian represen- 

Dress and Ornament of Women. 29 

tations of female attire; but we are to remember that the 
climate of Egypt was very different from that of Palestine, and 
required a different and lighter raiment ; and, in fact, we see 
that the dress of the Egyptians was essentially different from 
that of the various Syrian nations represented, chiefly as 
prisoners, on the monuments of Egypt. 

Then, it may be asked, why not recur to these latter repre- 
sentations for the required materials ? The answer is, that the 
representations are almost entirely of male foreigners, and that 
we are therefore left widiout information from this source as to 
the prevailing style of garb among the women of the Syrian 

The case is, however, not hopeless. There are the Arabians 
— ^a neighbouring people of kindred origin, who have remained 
in the same country, with little alteration of language, habits of 
life, or raiment, since the days of the patriarchs : and it is pro- 
bable we should not be far wrong in seeking among them for 
all the proximate illustrations of Hebrew costume we can re- 
quire, or may now hope to obtain. 

It is common to confound the terms Arabian and Bedouin ; 
but all the Arabians are not tent-dwellers. They have had, 
and still have, important towns, the inhabitants of which pursue 
the avocations and maintain the habits of civil life, manifesting 
even now, among the wealthier classes, much luxury of dress 
and ornament, especially among the women. The dress of the 
poorer inhabitants of these towns is much the same with that of 
the Arabians who dwell in tents ; and it has always appeared to 
us, that from the dresses worn by these different classes of the 
great Arabian people, nothing that occurs in Scriptmre on the 
subject of costume needs remain unexplained. In S)rria, even 
at this day, the Arabian influence as to costume predominates, 
and the paramount style of raiment differs little from that of 
the Arabs. As we go farther north, the Turkish dress begins 
to prevail. This dress, it will be recollected, is quite different 
from, ahd in all respects far less becoming than, the Arabian. 
It is also an exotic importation that came in with the Turks, 
and was not known in Western Asia until a comparatively 


o Fourteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

recent period. It therefore supplies no materials for illustra- 
tion. Indeed, one would not desire to regard Scripture cha- 
racters as arrayed in such a garb as that of the Turks, which, 
with its vast trousers, and small skirtless jackets, always seemed 
to us singularly ungraceful as compared with the flowing ampli- 
tude of Arabian attire. It has been praised, indeed, by Euro- 
peans ; but only, we apprehend, in comparison with their own 
still more atrocious costumes, and sometimes," as we know, from 
their regarding the Arabian costumes as Turkish, having ob- 
served them in Turkish towns. Even in Constantinople, the 
Arabian dress prevails among certain classes of the population, 
such as those who follow what with us would be called the 
learned professions. The proper Turkish dress is, in fact, an 
equestrian one, and the Turks were formerly an entirely eques- 
trian people, as they still are in part ; but it is ill suited to the 
civil life to which they attained after the conquest of the Greek 

Under these views, we shall feel authorized in looking mainly 
to Arabian dress for the analogies which may, from the text 
before us, furnish some clearer apprehensions than are usually 
entertained respecting the raiment of the Jewish females. We 
may premise, however, that although we conceive the dress of 
the Hebrew women (and also, indeed, of the men) to have 
been essentially different from that of the ancient Egyptians, it 
is very possible that many articles of personal ornament were 
much the same in form and application. The large class of 
articles which we include under the name of * jewellery,' is less 
different in neighbouring countries than the articles that con- 
stitute the proper * dress,* perhaps because they are not subject 
to the influence of those changes which variations of climate 
necessitate. A necklace, a bracelet, an ear-ring, a frontlet of 
diamonds, silver, or gold, are as well suited to a warm as to a 
cold climate. 

Tinkling Ornaments and Mufflers. 3 1 


The * tinkling ornaments about their feet,' with which the pro- 
phet begins his enumeration of the Hebrew ladies' attire and 
ornaments, will, in the absence of other materials, call to the 
minds of many readers that ancient lady of nursery rh)ane, 
who had 

* Rings on her fingers, and bells on her toes, 
That she may have music wherever she goes.' 

In fact, among the anklets worn by the dancing girls of India, 
there is one sort which has a row of small bells attached to it, 
for the purpose of producing a ' tinkling' corresponding to the 
movements of the dance. We doubt, however, whether any- 
thing of this kind is intended here ; and rather suppose that 
t\it Jingling of the anklets still ordinarily worn by the women 
among the S)n:o- Arabian nations, is what the prophet has in 
view. Anklets of solid gold or silver are worn by some ladies. 
These are of course very heavy, and knocking together as the 
wearer walks, make a ringing noise. Hence it is said in an 
Arabian love-song, * The ringing of thy anklets hath deprived 
me of reason.' It is probably to this the text has reference. 
This ornament is much affected by women of all classes. We 
have seen them worn by the wives of the richer peasants, and 
of the sheikhs of villages, and even by servants, and by the 
women who distribute milk and butter (or, as we should call 
them, 'milkmaids') to the houses in towns. Small anklets of 
iron are worn by many children. It was, however, formerly a 
custom among the Arabs for girls to wear a string of bells on 
their feet; and little girls may still sometimes be seen with 
small bells attached to their anklets. The anklets in ordinary 
use are often not solid, but hollow ; and this of course much 
enhances the sharp ringing sound which they produce when 
struck together, as, from the enlarged diameter, often happens 


Fourteenth Week — Seventh Day, 

in walking. In fact, the women thus adorned affect so to walk 
as that their anklets shall come into collision at each step they 
take ; and this seems to have been the case among the Jewish 
women, for the prophet clearly describes them as ' mincing 
their steps as they go,' in order to make the 'tinkling with 
their feet.' This seems to supply a sufficient explanation. But 
some interpreters assert that the Hebrew ladies of fashion wore 
bells to the hem of their garments. We know from sculptures 
that such appendages were used by the ancient Bacchantes, for 
the sake of the sound they afforded when the wearer moved 
actively in the dance ; and that the idea of this usage was not 
unknown to the Israelites, appears from the fact that small 
bells were attached to the hem of the high priest's robe. 

But what are the * cauls ' which are next presented to our 
notice ? This is more than can be said with distinctness. Mr. 
Jenour translates the term by * worked sandals,' for the reason 
that, as the prophet is speaking of the ornaments of the feet 
and legs, * it is but reasonable to suppose he would observe 
some kind of order.* It does not appear, however, that the 
prophet does observe this kind of order ; and what is ' reason- 
able to suppose,' is not sufficient authority for an interpretation 
which the original does not sanction. We know very weU 
what the Hebrew word for sandals is, and there is no trace 
of it here. The marginal reading is * network ;' and several 
learned interpreters collect from the Arabic language that the 

Tinkling Omamenis and Mufflers. 2>Z 

word employed denotes certain points or studs, used to orna- 
ment the hair. If this be the case, we can be at no loss about 
it, for we find the same thing in use at this day among the 
Arabian women. They divide their hair into a, number of braids, 
which fall down the back, and to each of which are attached 
three silken threads, charged with small ornaments of gold, and 
tenninating with small coins of the same metal. The whole of 
this piece of work presents a rich appearance, and at some 
little distance has a sort of mailed or reticulated aspect, which 
might very well suggest ' network ' as a suitably descriptive 
term, if the original word is to be so understood. Indeed, the 
idea of ' interweaving,' on which this interpretation is founded, 

is fully exemplified in this sort of ornament, since the silken 
threads are, for a third of their length, generally interwoven 
with the hair. It is called safa, and Mr Lane says of it : 
' The safa appears to me the prettiest, as well as the most 
singular, of all the ornaments worn by the ladies of Egypt. 
The glittering of the bark,' etc., and their q O O 
chinking together as the wearer walks, have jfi ■ A 
a peculiarly lively effect.' This last circum- ' » 

stance seems to furnish a strong corroboration of the opinion 
we have hazarded; for, as being chinking ornaments of the 
' The name of ihe little ornaments taken separately. 


Fourteenth Week — Seventh Day. 

hair, we might expect them to be mentioned immediately after, 
and in connection with, ' the tinkling ornaments about the feet' 
In regard to the ' round tires like the moon,' it is usually 
suggested that the ornaments in question were small moon-tike 
IBgures, strung tt^ether, and worn as a necklace. It is, however, 
possible that the comparison to the moon is only employed — 

according to exisdr^ Eastern usage — to denote the lustre of 
the ornament rather Aaa its form. In this view, the Arabians 
gave the name of maoa {kamaroK) to the splendid ornament 
(moon-like only from its brilliancy), generally of gold, and some- 
times set with jewels, which is worn in front of the female head- 
dress. Another ornament, applied to the same purpose, might 
suggest a comparison to the moon by its roundness ; and, 

indeed, jewelled crescents are also among the ornaments worn 
in the head-dress of females. Thus, upon the whole, there 
seems little reason to doubt the use of the ornaments in question, 
whatever may have been their particular shape. 

The 'chains' that come next aie literally 'drops,' or 'pendants,' 

Tinkling Ornaments and Mufflers. 35 

and probably comprehend all kinds of pendent ornaments, 
including ear-rings, necklaces, and the like. Ear-rings, as 
worn by meny we have had some former occasion of noticing.^ 
Although, as then remarked, ear-rings are never now used by men 
in the countries named in Scripture, they are there still favourite 
omam^its with the women ; and they are sometimes of tasteful 

form, though usually, like all Oriental jewellery, of somewhat 
rough workmanship. Of necklaces we are now enabled to 
present the reader with existing Arabo-Egypdan examples, 
which appear to be very similar to those used by the ancient 
Egyptian ladies, as figured on the monuments^ The first is of 
diamonds, set in gold ; the second consists of several strii^ of 
pearls, with an emerald in the centre \ the third is composed of 
hollow beads, with a bead of a diflferent kind in the centre ; the 
fourth is of hollowgold, and is called j^j'dKr (barley) from its shape. 

'Bracelets,' which next follow, have already received our 

^ Morning Series, Eleventh Week — Second Day. 

Fourteenth Week — Seventh Day. 


consideration;* but to the ancient examples there given, we 
now add specimens of those at present in common use among 
the women of Arabia and Syria ; and we may add, that those 
represented, in the Assyrian sculptures, as worn by great per- 
sonages, are remarkably rich and elegant, being composed of a 
jointed plate charged with large rosettes (probably jewelled) 
nearly touching one another. 

By the term rendered ' mufflers,' a kind of veil is doubtless 
denoted Various kinds of veils seem, indeed to be mentioned 
in this descnption of a woman's dress, 
and for the most part, such as we still 
find m the East The one here de- 
noted appears to have been a veil for 
the face, which in this age seems to 
have been affected by the ladies of the 
higher classes, although probably disre- 
garded by the general body of the 
female population At present the use 
of the veil for the face, out of doors, is 
1 1 1 common This in Syna and Egypt is 
[|l\ usually a long stnp — black or white, 
\^ plain or ornamented — fastened around 
the held, ind descendmg nearly to the 
^Ve suppose this to be the one 
intended here. It does not cover the eyes; and the lower 
part being loose, it has a sort of tremulous motion, to which 
there seems to be an allusion in the original Hebrew word. 

We need not inform our lady readers that the 'bonnels,' 
which come next before us, must be materially different from 
those arricles of the same name which have a special interest 
to themselves. The head-dress or turban, in a general sense, 
appears to be intended. This, apart from the golden or 
jewelled -ornament with which it may be adorned, consists 
usually, at the present day, of a cap, around which are wound 
one or more rich handkerchiefs or shawls, folded high and flat, 
and not bulging out like those of the men.* This is ihe 
' Momins Series, Thirty-fifth Weel;— Sixlli Day. * See Illustration, p, 33' 


Tinkling Ornaments and Mufflers. 3 7 

general plan of the female head-dress; but there are great 
variations in the details. 

What ' the ornaments of the legs ' may be, we do not know ; 
but a great authority^ renders the term by * step-chains,* and 
refers to the analogous. term in Arabic, where it denotes the 
short chains which Oriental females wear attached to the 
ankle-band of each foot, so as to compel them to take short 
and mincing steps. 

The word translated * head-bands,' seems rather, from a com- 
parison of texts, to denote * girdles,' especially as worn by a 
bride. In the East, women, as well as men, wear girdles; 
but they are in general less bulky, and less elaborately folded 
around the person, being commonly a shawl, sometimes of 
great value, loosely folded, fastened in front, and suffered to 
hang down behind a little. This may be seen in one of our 

But what shall we say to the * tablets,' expressed in the 
original by a term which, literally interpreted, means, as some 
say, * houses of the soul,' but more properly, * houses of breath 7 
The word rendered * breath' means also the scent or odour 
which anything breathes forth or exhales, so that the odour 
of the rose would be the breath of the rose. Thus we come 
easily to the signification, that these articles called 'houses,' 
that is, abodes or receptacles, * of scent,' were small caskets, 
or bags, or bottles of perfume, equivalent to smelling-bottles, 
which, judging from analogy, were attached to a necklace that 
hung down to the waist. The Orientals are partial to per- 
fumes, and ladies commonly carry them in this way upon their 

* Gesenius. ^ See p. 42. 


The relation in which the Lord delights to exhibit himself 
to his people is that of a father to his children; and when 
they are disobedient and rebellious, He impresses upon us the 
enormity of our conduct, by reminding us of the sternest of 
life's sorrows — a fsither's grief at the unworthiness of his son. 
^I have nourished and brought up children,' He says, ^and 
they have rebelled against me.' He had not only nourish 
them, that is, nursed^ their infant and helpless years, but had 
watched over and sustained their growth, had * brought them 
up' to the strength and glory of manhood, and then — they 
rebelled against Him. There is a deep pathos in the sugges- 
tion here presented to the mind, of the solemn grief of a fadier 
over a rebelhous and worthless son on the one hand, and of 
the intensity of the son's ingratitude in rebelling against the 
paternal authority on the other. This appears with force even 
to us; but with much greater force must it have struck the 
minds of the Israelites, whose notions of filial reverence and 
duty were of a much stronger cast, like those of all Orientals, 
than we find prevalent among ourselves. We cannot measure 
the difference, nor do we know to what cause in national cha- 
racter, or in social or political institutions, it should be ascribed; 
but certain it is, that in this country and America, which, more 
than any other nations, enjoy the freest access to those sacred 
Scriptures which set forth, * Honour thy father and thy mother,' 
as * the first commandment with promise,' paternal authority is 
more feeble, and filial attachment and respect are less strongly 

^ This is the sense of the word, now obsolete, but current when the 
authorized version was made. Thus, *nourice* was nurse. So Spencer 
calls Camden 'the nourice of antiquity.' 


Rebellious Children. 39 

manifested, than in any other country under heaven. Hence 
such an allusion as this, which was intuitively apprehended in 
the fullest force by an Israelite, is, although comprehensible to 
the understanding, hardly y^/ in all its depth among ourselves, 
until a pause has been given to the consideration of the true 
character of a relation between a father and his child. 

Then let us consider it, in order to realize that comprehen- 
sion which the sluggish heart, without the help of the reason, 
too often refuses to fiamish. 

It is not, perhaps, until one becomes a parent himself, that 
he can thoroughly understand how much he owes to the care 
and love of his parents, during that earliest stage of his exist- 
ence of which he retains no actual knowledge, although it 
leaves its mark upon him, in the habit of loving dependence, 
which is even then implanted. Then, although the father 
hangs with thankful fondness over the child that God has 
given to him, and treads the paths of life with a more elastic 
step in the consciousness of being a father, it is the mother's 
love and care that reign paramount, as the young one nestles 
to her bosom, and draws its life from her ; and as she, from day 
to day, and hour to hour, untiringly watches its every look and 
movement, hastens to appease its little griefs, responds to its 
small tokens of infantine joy, and admires, as only mothers 
can, the signs of opening intelligence. The relation between 
these two, as we behold them, is not only beautiful in its 
lighter aspects, but sublime in its depths ; for of all the ' tender 
and delicate women' who thus hover blessingly over the early 
days of their child, there is not one in a thousand who would 
for a moment hesitate to confront the most savage perils, or to 
lay down her very life, for its sake. 

Next think of the father's less intimately tender care tfiefty 
but, then and after, not less deep and earnest love towards his 
children. How fervently he prays for, and watches over, tlieir 
welfare, and with what earnest solicitude he regards their well- 
being in soul and body, and marks their growth in strength, in 
knowledge, in piety, and in intellect ! For them he labours, 
for them he strives, for them denies himself; and the thought 

40 Fifteenth Week — First Day. 

that it is for them, makes his daily toil, his constant struggle, 
and all his self-denial, sweet Oh, the cares, the anxious 
thoughts, the perplexing fears, which he has continually for 
their welfare in this life, and in the life to come ! 

In view of all this, it might be deemed a moral impossibility 
that a father's care and love should ever be returned with such 
stubbornness, disregard, rebellion, scorn, and wrong-doing, as 
must pierce the paternal heart sharper than any sword. It 
seems the greatest of the enormities of which our fallen nature 
is capable ; and therefore it is that the Lord brings it forward 
as the most forcible illustration of his people's disregard of Him 
and rebellion against Him. * I have nourished and brought up 
children, and they have rebelled against me.' 

There are things worse than death, and this is one of them. 
In this conviction, we were much impressed lately by a pas- 
sage in a Memoir of the Rev. James Hay, D.D.* Speaking of 
the state of mind to which he was reduced by the loss of many 
of his children in rapid succession, he says : • While still in this 
state of mind, a pious lady of my acquaintance called upon me, 
who had buried her husband and three sons. In the course of 
conversation, she remarked with many tears, that it was much 
easier to mourn over the dead than over the living ; and then 
told me that her eldest surviving son, instead of being a com- 
fort to her, and an example to the younger members of his 
family, was causing her much grief and anguish of mind — that 
he had gone far, very far, astray, and was resisting all her en- 
treaties to be reclaimed. I felt upbraided by these acknow- 
ledgments, and saw that I had sinned by allowing myself to 
fall into the state of mind in which I then was. I mentioned 
this circumstance to my wife, and showed her what a lesson of 
resignation this lady had taught us.' 

Not less to us than to the Israelites has the Lord been a 
father ; and not less heinous in us than in them is the sin of 
filial ingratitude and rebellion against Him. Has He not from 

^Sermons and Sacramental Addresses^ by the Rev. James Hay, D.D. 
With a Memoir of the Author, by the Rev. William Mackelvie, D.D. 
Edinburgh : Oliphant and Sons. 1851. 

Veils and Wrappers. 


the beginning watched over us with a parent's care? Did He 
not conduct us safely through all the perils of the wilderness, 
and feed us from day to day with bread from heaven, and 
water from the rock ? Has He not all our life defended us 
from our enemies on every side? Has He not paternally 
instructed us by his servants, by his statutes and judgments, 
and by his good Spirit ? And if, from time to time, He has 
chastened, has it not been as a father chasteneth his son — 
loving him most when he smites him hardest ? Let us believe 
that if we be bom of God, we are indeed his children ; and let 
us not rebel in heart or hand against Him who hath nourished 
and brought us up, but strive day by day to grow up in all 
things to the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus. 

Jfiffje-enfj^ M^jeh— Sjernnir gag. 


In resuming the consideration of the curious particulars fur- 
nished in the third chapter of Isaiah, respecting the dress and 
ornaments of the Hebrew ladies, we come next to what our 

iT n ii m rtmTilh n ii nnn iii nni i iiii 

translators have rendered ' ear-rings,' but which is now generally 
allowed to be nothing of the kind, but rather small caskets 
containing charms or amulets. To the use of such things 
among the Orientals, we had occasion to refer not more than 
two days ago. Those to which the text refers, probably con- 
tained (unless the women were idolaters) texts of Scripture, 

42 Fifteenth Week — Second Day. 

just as the Moslems employ passages from the Koran to the 
same purpose. Those worn by women are made to serve as 
ornaments, by beiag enclosed in small cases of chased gold 
or silver, and are commonly worn at the right side, being sus- 
pended from a silken cord, or a chain passed over the \e& 
shoulder. They are sometimes worn at the neck or bosom, or 
around the head, and frequently two or more are attached to 
the same string. That the Hebrews were greatly addicted to 
the like superstition, is allowed by their own writers. 

The 'lings' require no explanation, except to remark the 
curious fact that no finger nngs appear in any of the Assyrian 
sculptures that have yet been found, though nngs appear upen 
the great toes of some kings and other high personages. The 
* nose-jewels' have already been explamed ' What 'the change- 
able suits of apparel' (one word in the original) denotes, we can 
collect from Zech. iii. 3, 4, where the same word describes rich 
' Monung Series, Ninth Week— £ixth Daj. 

Veils and Wrappers. 43 

and costly gaiments, worn only on special occasions, as con- 
trasted with the humbler garb employed for ordinary wear. 
The idea of their being ikanged or changeable, probably refers to 
the practice of taking them off or changing them, to prevent 
them from being tarnished, when the occasions for their use 
had passed. If the tenn refers to any single article of dress, it 
is probably the gown. Those among ladies of quality are often 
very cosdy indeed, being of rich figured silks and satins, and 
were anciently, doubtless, of the richest stuffs that could be 
procured. The term has suggested ' shot silk' to some ; but 
there is no evidence that silk was so anciently used in Western 
Asia; for it is not agreed that the word translated 'silk' in 
Frov. xxxi. 22 has really that meaning. 

The women having comparatively little underclothing, fre- 
quently wore in-doors, over the gown, a long pelisse or mantle, 
made of cloth, silk, or velvet; and some such article as this, 
we suppose to be the 'mantle' which the prophet names 
among the articles of female attire. 

What our translators meant to indicate by the now obsolete 
w<Hd 'wimples,' is probably as unintelligible to most readers 

as irould be the original Hebrew term. A wimple was a sort 
of hood, which fitted to the head, and came down behind, to 
near the small of the back, covering also the shoulders. The 

44 Fifteenth Week — Second Day. 

descending part of this hood distinguished it as a wimple. 
Thus, Spenser describes his Una as shading her beauty 

' Under u veil that wimpled was full low.' 
Such wimples, or descending hoods, are still worn by nuns, 

and fonn the ordinary out-door dress (in lieu of bonnet and 
shawl) in the south of Italy, and in Malta. They are gene- 
rally of black silk. Something of the kind is worn, in place of 

a more ample envelope, by the Arabian peasant females. We 
do not think, however, that this kind of article correctly repre- 
sents the original, which appears rather to indicate the ample 
enveloping robe in which the Easterns shroud their persons 

Veils and Wrappers. 45 

wlien they go abroad. It is much like, and nearly as capa- 
cious as a sheet. It is white, black, striped, or plaided — diffe- 
rent colours and patterns prevailing in different localities ; an<l 
they are of costly or cheap material — silk or cotton — according 
to the circumstances of the wearer. Being thrown over the 
head, and fastened thereto by a ribbon secured inside, this 
mantle falls to the ground, and, with the face veil, completely 
envelopes the whole person. The word here is, in fact, the 
same in the original as that which denotes ' the veil' in which 
Ruth took away six measures of barley 
from the threshing-Soor of Boaz. Under 
this outer wrapper, ladies often wore a 
capacious silk robe (called fob) with long 
and loose sleeves, which, in coarser 
materials, often senes the females of 
lower rank for an external walking 

' Crisp ing-pins,' to which we next 
come, is a strange translation of the 
word, which, in the singular, is rendered 
' bag' in 2 Kings v. 23. A puise seems 
to be intended in both places. By = 
this, we are to understand a richly 
ornamented purse or small bag, which 
the women wore attached to the girdle, 1 
pocket. It is usually made of silk, wrought with threads of 
silver and gold. Some say that those of the Hebrew women 
were of metal, sometimes of pure gold, and fashioned like a 
cone, with borders of rich cloth at the top ; but we know not 
on what authority this statement rests. 

The 'glasses' were not 'looking-glasses,' as some would 
suppose. They were, however, small mirrors, but made of 
highly polished metal, which the women employed at the toilet, 
and sometimes wore as articles of ornament and use. This 
custom is very ancient indeed, for we read in Exodus xxxviii. 8, 
that in the wilderness the women gave their minors to fomi 
the brass plates for the external covering of the great lai'er. 

) serve them for a 


Fifteenth Week — Second Day. 

It is known that the ancient Egyptians used mirrors of this 
sort, and actual specimens, as well as representations of them, 
have been found. Bishop Lowth, and some others, however, 
think that not mirrors but transparent garments are meant 
That such dresses existed, is shown by the feet, that in the 
Egyptian paintings women are often seen arrayed in dresses 
through which the outline of the person is distinctly visible, 
and which, therefore, of whatever materials composed, must 

have been as transparent as the finest muslin, — ^we had almost 
said, as crape. 

The * fine linen * is, in the original, the same word which is 
translated * sheets * in Judges xiv. 12, 13, and which, there as 
here, we take to mean the innermost article of dress, shirts or 
shifts, which were probably made of what was then considered 
fine linen. Indeed, our translators have put * shirts * in the 
margin of the text just indicated. Dr. Henderson sanctions this 
view, translating here by * linen shifts.' It is likely that the 
wearing of this garment at all was a distinction of persons in 
good circumstances, and that, as is now often the case, the 
poorer classes were content, for constant wear, with a woollen 
robe in winter, and one of coarse linen in summer. 

Veils and Wrappers. 47 

Next we come to ' hoods,' which have somewhat perplexed 
interpreters. Many translate the word by ' turbans ; ' bnt they 
also render the ' bonnets ' of verse 20 by ' tires,' and allow tiiem 
to be head-diesses, and head-dresses are turbans; so this makes 
us have the same thing twice over, which is more than we want. 
Some vriio attempt to meet this difficulty, confound in a strange 
manner the different articles of Arabian attire of which they have 
read, but with which they possess no practical acquaintance. 
We venture to suggest, that the term may denote a species of 
head-dress which is still seen among the Arabian nations. It 
consists of a laigc handkerchief or shawl, or piece of linen or 

cotton (usnally black or of some dark colour, but white in some 
localities), which is wound round the head, and falls over the 
neck and shoulders, the ends or comers being brought round 
ID front to cover the throat and bosom, and generally the lower 
part of the face to the tip of the nose — being, in fact, the 
ordinary veil of the class of women by whom it is used — such, 
chiefly, as are engaged in active employments, to which this 
offers less impediment than any other kind of veil. It is, 
perhaps, taken as a whole, what our translators must have had 
in view by the ' wimple ' of a previous verse. 

The ' veils,' which we next reach, seem to be the only re- 

48 Fifteenth Week — Second Day. 

maining veil which has not been noticed. This is a kind of head 
veil which ladies wear at home, and which, not being intended 
for concealment of the features, rests upon the head and falls 
down over the back. It is of very light texture, being usually 
a long strip of muslin, embroidered with threads of coloured 
silk and gold, forming altogether one of the most gracefiil 
articles in the female attire of the East. A black veil of this 
sort becomes an external article of dress when the tob, already 
mentioned, is used as an outer robe. 

The phrase in verse 24, ' instead of a girdle, a rent,' is scarcely 
correct. It means, that instead of such elegant shawl girdles as 
women of quality wore, thpre' should be a common girdle of cord 
or twisted wool, such as was in use among the poor country- 

The ' well-set hair ' of the same verse remmds us how elabo- 
rately the hair was anciently braided among the Egyptian ladies, 
as shown by the figures on the monuments ; and such was doubt- 
less the case among the women of Syria and Palestine, of whom 
we possess no corresponding representations. The figures 
which we give here illustrate some of the other details in these 
papers, especially as regards the ornaments of the head, the 
neck, and the arms. 

Butter and Honey. 49 

Jfifttjentj^ Mtiek— Cj^ir gag* 


We formerly had occasion to refer to the wonderful prediction 
of Isaiah, respecting the child to be bom, which was given as 
a sign to Ahaz.^ We therefore advert to the repetition of this 
circumstance in the book of Isaiah*s prophecies, only for the 
sake of calling attention to one or two of the particulars which 
it did not then lie in our way to notice. 

It is said of the child, * Butter and honey shall he eat, that 
he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good,' — or rather, 
* mitil he knows,' — ^that is, that he shall be so fed until the first 
few years of his life have passed. In regard to this eating of 
butter and honey, various singular explanations have been given 
by commentators, which would have been spared us, had they 
possessed some knowledge of eastern habits of life. It must 
be understood that the word translated * butter,' denotes not 
only that which is properly butter, in our acceptation of the 
word, but sundry preparations from milk less than butter ; such 
as cream, butter-milk, and sour curdled milk, all of which are 
largely used in Western Asia, especially in juvenile dietary. 
Even the butter proper is a different thing from ours, being white 
as lard, and very deficient in the flavour which we consider 
essential to good butter. Indeed there are differences in this 
respect among ourselves ; as, for instance, in Devonshire, butter 
is not, as elsewhere, made from the skim of cold milk, but from 
the thick deposit (known as clotted cream) formed upon the 
surface of scalded milk, and is finally turned into * butter,' 
without the aid of the * chum,' employed in other parts of the 
country. The results of this further process, however conducted 
here and elsewhere, are all butter, whatever be the differences 
in the appearance and quality of the product. It is quite 
possible that in this and some other places where the word is 
translated ' butter,' milk in even its simple state may be under- 

* Morning Series, Fifty-first Week— First Day. 

50 Fifteenth Week — Third Day ^ 

stood. Certainly milk, and such preparations of it as we have 
indicated, are consumed very largely, and, together with honey 
when it can be procured, form the staple diet of young children. 
It is surprising that some understand this diet as denoting a 
time of distress, seeing that no product of agriculture — no bread, 
is mentioned. It is surely forgotten that the plenty of the land 
of Canaan is continually described by its being * a land flowing 
mth milk and honey.' The feeding of children with milk and 
honey, is also mentioned by heathen writers to express their 
prosperous bringing up. Indeed, in the 2 2d verse of this very 
chapter, it seems that this * butter and honey ' was, by reason 
of abundance, to enter more largely than usual even into the 
ordinary food of the people ; and from the verse that precedes, 
it appears that not only the milk of kine, but of sheep (and 
elsewhere, Prov. xxvii. 27, of goats also) was employed, as 
among the Bedouins at this day. This diet is described in the 
Narrative of Irby and Mangles as forming the concluding mess 
of a feast with which they were entertained by an Arab sheikh : 
* They afterwards gave us some honey and butter, together 
with bread to dip in it, Narsuk (the sheikh) desiring one of his 
men to mix it for us, as we were rather awkward at it. The 
Arab, having stirred the mixture up well with his fingers, showed 
his dexterity at consuming as well as mixing, and rewarded him- 
self for his trouble by eating half of it.' In fact, cream or fresh 
butter mixed with honey, is much used at breakfast in those 
parts, especially among the Arabs ; and when it is intended to 
provide an elegant repast, the bread-paste is kneaded up afresh, 
along with butter and honey. Children especially, seem every- 
where to have a taste for this sort of combination of butter and 
sweets. We count it among the reminiscences of our own 
childhood, that although we for ourselves preferred the butter 
*pure and simple,' treacle laid over bread already buttered, 
or sugar sprinkled over it, was regarded as a special luxury by 
most of our juvenile contemporaries. We are obliged to a friend 
in Scotland for an equally practical, and still more literal, illus- 
tration of this Oriental combination of honey with butter. He 
says : ' In my father's family, for many years, we every autumn 

Butter and Honey. 5 1 

received from the country a large supply of fresh (unsalted) 
butter, and honey. The former was dissolved in a sauce-pan, 
and then well mixed with tlie honey, after which the whole was 
poured into jars, where it was preserved in excellent condition 
for many months, and formed a favourite condiment to all us 

Before it should come to pass that the child spoken of by 
the prophet was old enough * to refuse the evil and choose the 
good,' the confederacy then subsisting between the kingdoms 
of Israel and Syria, to the alarm and detriment of Judah, should 
be brought to nought through the invasion and subjugation of 
these lands by the Assyrians. This is expressed in the re- 
markable words : * The Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the 
uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in 
the land of Assyria.' The army is here compared to swarms 
of these insects with reference to their immense number, and 
to the pungency of their sting. To hiss for them, is to call or 
summon them, derived from the practice of the bee-keepers, 
who, with a whistle, summoned them from the hives to the 
open fields, and by the same means conducted them home 
again. We know not that the practice still exists. Most 
likely it does, though it has not been noticed ; but we are 
assured by St. Cyril, that it subsisted in Asia down to the 
fourth and fifth centuries. 

Further on we are told that the invaders should come * with 
arrows and with bows;' and these weapons are constantly 
ascribed to the Assyrians — ^more, indeed, to them than to any 
other of the invaders of Israel or Judah, — with what fitness the 
sculptures, of Nineveh now enable us to ascertain, as there will 
be soon another occasion to show. On this fact, an ingenious 
writer^ of the last century, now difficult of access, founded a 
conjecture as to the reason of the bee being made the emblem 
of the Assyrians. It was probably, he thinks, on account of the 

^ Rev. Thomas Howes, in his Observations on Books, published occa- 
sionally in parts, at intervals of years, so that a complete set is rarely to be 
found. The volumes (four) are rich in chronological materials and sug- 

52 Fifteenth Week — Third Day. 

resemblance between a quiver full of airows and the forked sting 
in the tail of a bee ; ' and i^' he adds, ' in these eaily times, the 
archers in their flight shot arrows backwards, as the Persians 

and Farthians did afterwards, the resemblance would be still 
more characteristic of the archers in the Assyrian army ; 
whether native Assyrians, or Median and Persian allies,' He 
goes on to aj^e, that the choice of this emblem becomes a 
strong proof that the circumstance of archery was noticed as ' a 
dittinguishing property in that array.' All these happy conjec- 
tures are confirmed by the sculptures, in 
which we not only find the arrow the dis- 
tinguishing weapon of the Assyrians, but have 
instances of men turning round in their flight 
to discharge arrows at the pursuit^ enemy. 
It will be observed, that the analogy indi- 
cated by Howes is not merely that of an 
arrow, but that of ,a quiver of arrows, to a 
bee's sting. The ingenuity and fitness will 
be obvious to those acquainted with the structure of that 
sting, which was probably known to him, and which may 
be made intelligible by the annexed enlai^d representation 
of it. 

Considerii^ the great abundance of bees in Assyria, and the 
excellence of its honey. It is far from unlikely that the bee may 
have been a known symbol of the Assyrian power. We have 
not been able to discover any evidence of this among the 

RabshakeKs Oration. 53 

sculptures hitherto brought to light ; but we find a modem and 
sufficiently appropriate instance, in the adoption of the bee as 
the symbol of the French empire by Napoleon. Considering 
his early-entertained and long-cherished dreams of eastern 
conquest, it has been supposed by some that he had this text 
in view in the adoption of that emblem. It is better ascer- 
tained, however, that he wished, the bee to be regarded as in- 
dicating the revival of the Merovingian dynasty, of which this 
insect seems to have been the symbol ;^ and as representing 
the industry of the nation. The spretzd hee also is not unlike 
the national fleur-de-lis, and it seems Napoleon was not un- 
willing that it should be mistaken by the populace for that 
favourite emblem. 

Jfiftje^nij^ Wk!^—$,tm^ gag, 


In the chapters which relate to the Assyrian invasion of Judah 
under Sennacherib, there are many particulars which receive 
new and interesting illustration from the recent discoveries of 
Layard and Botta in Assyrian antiquities. These, indeed, 
refer chiefly to the public life of the Assyrians ; and do not 
furnish such details of social and private life, as the painted 
tombs of Egypt present to us in regard to the subjects of the 
Pharaohs. But it is chiefly in this their public life and warlike 
operations that the Scripture brings the Assyrians before us ; 
and the sculptures which have been brought to light, do there- 

^ In the year 1654 a tomb was discovered at Tournay (in Flanders), 
which was supposed to be that of Childeric I., son of Merov^e (head of 
the Merovingian dynasty), and father of Clovis, who reigned in the Low 
Countries from 458 to 481. This tomb contained a sword with a golden 
hilt, an iron hatchet, many bees of gold^ 100 gold medals of the emperors 
of Constantinople contemporary with Childeric, with 200 silver medals of 
the same empire prior to Childeric. The Emperor Leopold presented 
these remains to Louis xiv., and they are still preserved in the Cabinet of 
Antiquities of the National Library at Paris. 

54 Fifteenth Week — Fourth Day. 

fore furnish, respecting this remarkable ancient people, exactly 
the kind of information which was most to be desired ; and it 
is to be hoped that further discoveries may supply information 
respecting much that yet remains obscure or doubtful. 

The chapters to which we have come, treat, nearly in the 
same words, of that invasion of the land of Judah by Senna- 
cherib, king of Assyria, which is recorded in the eighteenth 
and nineteenth chapters of the Second Book of Kings. The 
historical incidents have already occupied our attention in 
considering that portion of Scripture; and we are now left 
more at liberty to point out the indications of Assyrian usages 
which the present narrative of the same transactions offers. We 
shall, of course, take them in the order in which they occur ; 
and in our way through the Prophets, all the facts which the 
Scriptures appear to furnish illustrative of the subject, must 
pass under our notice. * 

What first comes under consideration is the insolent message 
delivered before the walls of Jerusalem by Rabshakeh, in the 
name of his master the king of Assyria. He first derides the 
Hebrews for trusting to the king of Egypt for help : * Lo, thou 
trustest on the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt ; whereon if 
a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it.' This com- 
parison would only be likely to occur to persons in the habit 
of using walking-staves. As it happens, this was equally true 
of the Ass)nians and the Egyptians, and was therefore the 
more appropriate ; and with both, the staves used in walking 
were taller than is usual with us — generally as tall as the 
shoulder; while it is evident from the Egyptian specimens, that 
men, when standing still, threw much of the weight of their 
bodies upon their staves, or, in other words, were apt to lean 
forcibly upon them ; so that from this, as well as from their 
length, the accident of their breaking, unless of good quality, 
could not fail to be of frequent occurrence, which, from both 
circumstances, would more frequently be attended with injury 
than might at first be supposed. It is also observable that the 
Egyptian walking-staff has usually a slim, rod-like appearance, 
whereas the Assyrian one is commonly a stout and substantial 

Rabskakefis Oration. 55 

stick ; so that the fonner would be much more hable to break 
than the latter. It is therefore likely that the known frequency 
of this accident among the Egyptians gave much sarcastic point 
to the similitude by which Rabshakeh, leaning upon his own 
strong staff the while, denounced Judah's trust in the Egyptian 
king. It is well to add that the walking-cane appears far more 
frequently in the Egyptian than in the Assyrian monuments. 
This is doubtless because the latter refer chiefly to warlike 
proceedings, in which the personages find sufiicient occupation 

for their hands in the management of their weapons and their 
reins. It appears, however, as among the Egyptians, in the 
social life of Assyria. The king uses it when' he takes his 
walks abroad, which may remind us, moreover, that staves were 
anciently the sceptres of kings, though all staves were not 
sceptres. Indeed, in Hebrew there is but one word for a stafi" 
and a sceptre. 

It has already been observed that Rabshakeh is not a proper 
name, but a title of office, that of ' chief cup-bearer ;' which, it 


Fifteenth Week — Fourth Day. 

has been shown, was a high office in the East, SO that there 
is nothing extraordinary in persons ■holding it appearing as 
generals, ambassadors, or governors. In one of the sculptures 
from Nimrud, recently arrived at the British Museum, a cup- 
bearer is represented in the discharge of his proper office. 
The king is seated on his throne, which is an ornamented and 
elevated chair without any back, and has just taken the broad 
saucer-like wine-cup firom the salver, and holds it not as we 
should do, but sustains it upon the points of his fingers, after a 
feshion still usual in the same region. Before him stands the 
cup-bearer holding !n his right hand a fly<flapper, and in the 

other the salver on which he has presented the wine-cup, which 
is furnished with a curious handle terminating in birds' heads. 
The physiognomy and beardless face of the cup-bearer indi- 
cate that he is a eunuch. There is little doubt that Rabshakch 
was also of that class. In fact, one of the principal officers of 
the Assyrian court is expressly designated by his official title 
of ' Rabsaris,' or ' chief of the eunuchs.' Indeed, the monu- 
ments show the personal attendants of the king to have been 
mostly eunuchs; and that those persons rose to t^e highest 
rank, and were not merely servants, is shown fi'om the Scrip- 
ture instances, remarkably corroborated by the sculptures, in 
which, says Layard, ' eunuchs are represented as commanding 

RabskakeKs Oration. 


in war, fighting both in chariots and on horseback, and re- 
ceiving the prisoners and the heads of the slain after battle. 
They were also employed as scribes, and are seen writing 
down the number of the heads and the amount of the spoil 
obtained from the enemy. They were even accustomed to 
officiate in religious ceremonies. They appear, indeed, to have 
occupied the more important posts, and to have exercised the 
same influence in the Assyrian court as they have since done 
in flie East, where they have not only filled the highest offices 
of State, but have even attained to sovereign power.' 

In the Thirty-second Volume of the Anhaoiogia of the 
Society of Antiquaries, there is a memoir, by Mr. Birch of the 
British Museum, relative to ' Two bas-reliefe of Assyrian sculp- 
ture removed from Khorsabad.' These bas-reliefs fonn a portion 

of the discoveries of M Botta, and were sent by our consul 
at Mosul (Mr. Rassam) to the late Sir Robert Peel, who sent 
them to the British Museum for examination and inspection. 
They were two heads of colossal size of which engravings are 
fiimished in the pubhcation named One is that of a warrior ; 
the other, which is that of a eunuch, has the features of a man 
rather fiill, with aquihne nose soft expression hair gathered in 
undulating curls to tiie back of the head, where it clusters in 
short spiral curls, with a light fillet, coloured blue and red, 
passing over the head. The fiilness of the chin is noticeable, 
and there are ear-rings resembling the Egyptian symbol of life, 
Mr. Birch, looking to this as a work of art, says: ' The eyes 
and brows of the head of the eunuch are most peculiar in their 

58 Fifteenth Week — Fifth Day. 

treatment. The eyebrow is literally cut out and coloured 
black ; the lids of the eyes are shell-like, and dyed with the 
stibium, and the pupil is for a full eye, and coloured black. 
A singular effect is produced by the pupil not being so large 
as the eye; but this was, no doubt, very different when the 
monument was in situ, as the height must have rendered it less 
striking. The chin is peculiarly double and full, although the 
rest of the face indicates youth ; but it would appear from the 
Egyptian monuments, that some of the tribes of Central Asia — 
the Cheta, for example, a people in the vicinity of Mesopo- 
tamia — had this physical development. There is a smile upon 
the features ; and the whole bears much relation to the Eg)rp- 
tian sculptures in part of the treatment ; while, on the other 
hand, it is unequivocally of the same school as early Persian 
art, and the rigid works of the Archaic-Greek school, executed 
prior to the Persian invasion of Greece.' 


An essentially equestrian people like. the Assyrians must have 
been singularly impressed by the absence of cavalry among the 
Hebrews ; and, seeing the inordinate estimation in which this 
kind of force was anciently held, this fact goes far to explain 
the supreme contempt with which the Ass)rrian commander 
speaks of the military resources of the nation. That the feel- 
ing had its root in this circumstance is shown by the bitter taunt 
of Rabshakeh : * Now, therefore, give pledges, I pray thee, to 
my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thou- 
sand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set 'riders upon 
them.' There are other passages indicating that, in the view 
of the Jews, the Ass)rrians were remarkable for their cavalry. So 
Hosea (xiv. 3) : ' Asshur shall not save us ; we will not ride 
upon horses.* 

In fact, the mention of Assyria is as much connected with 

Horses and Chariots. 59 

horses, as that of Arabia would be now. Arabia, on the other 
hand, is connected with camels, never with horses ; and there 
appears reason to doubt whether Mesopotamia and the neigh- 
bouring deserts of Arabia, possessed in biblical times that 
Doble breed of horses for which it has since been famous, and 
whether it was not rather introduced shortly before the Arabian 
conquest. Solomon would not have needed to import horses 
from Egypt, had "Vrabia possessed an equal or a more valuable 
breed. It maj mdeed be urged that Solomon wanted horses 
trained for chariots, not saddle horses, for which alone Arabia 
has ever been celebrated But to this it may be answered, 
Arabians are alwajs represented as nding on camels, and it 
is historically proved that the Arabians in the army of Xerxes 
were mounted on camels, and were placed in the rear, because 

the camels frightened the horses.^ This fact is remarkable, as 
showing that the camels were not then accustomed to the com- 
pany of horses in their own country. 

But, to return to Assyria and its horses, it may be remarked 
that the Kurds, the modem inhabitants of Assyria, are to this 
day noted for their horses and horsemanship m. a degree 
scarcely second to the Arabians. We are not sufficiently 
versed in the 'points' of the horse to be able to say, whether 
'Herodotus, vii. S7. 

6o Fifteenth Week— Fifth Day. 

the breed which we ourselves continually saw and rode upon 
in that country be the same as that of the sculptures ; but, 
speaking from inexperienced impression merely, we should 
think the Assyrian horses of the sculptures of somewhat 
heavier build, which may arise from their being among the 
Assyrians not less in demand — ^perhaps more in demand — for 
the chariot than for the saddle. The horse of the sculptures 
is, however, in the judgment of Layard, 'well formed, and 
apparently of noble blood' He adduces some reasons for 
believing that the Egyptians derived their horses from the 
Assyrian provinces. To them he applies the allusion of the 
prophet (Habakkuk i. 8) to the horses of the Chaldeans, which 
must have been of the same breed : * Their horses are swifter 
than the leopards, and more fierce than the evening wolves.' 
He declares that no one can look at the horses of the early 
Assyrian sculptures, without being convinced that they are 
drawn from the finest models. The head is small and well 
shaped, the nostrils large and high, the neck arched, the body 
long, and the legs slender and sinewy. That the Assjnrians 
carefiilly portrayed animals is shown by their figures of lions, 
bulls, goats, and stags, so frequently introduced in their bas- 
reliefs ; it is highly probable, therefore, that they carefiilly 
copied the forms of their horses, and showed the points for 
which they were most distinguished. It is not unlikely that, as 
Layard well supposes, the plains watered by the Tigris and 
Euphrates, producing during the winter and spring the richest 
pasturage, were at the earliest period as celebrated as they are 
now for the rearing of horses, particularly when so large a 
supply must have been demanded for the cavalry and chariots 
of Ass3rrian armies. 

Mounted cavalry formed an important part of the Assyrian 
army. Horsemen are seen in the earliest scxilptures at Nimrud, 
and disciplined bodies of cavalry appear in the bas-reliefs at 
Koyunjik. . Correspondingly, the apocryphal book of Judith 
represents the Assyrian general, Holofemes, as having in his 
army 12,000 archers on horseback; and Ezekiel (xxiii. 6) 
speaks of * Assyrians clothed in blue, captains, and rulers, all 

Horses and Chariots. 6 1 

of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.' 
The king himself, however, is never represented on horseback in 
the sculptures, although a horse richly caparisoned, apparently 
for his use — ^perhaps to enable him to flee, should his chariot 
horses be killed — ^is frequently seen led by a warrior, and fol- 
lowing his chariot. In the earliest sculptures, the horses, 
except such as follow the king's chariot, are unprovided with 
clothes or saddles. The rider is seated on the naked back of 
the animal. At a later period, however, a kind of pad appears 
to have been introduced ; and in a sculpture at Ko5ainjik, is 
represented a high saddle, not unlike those still used in the 
East Stirrups were not known even to the Romans of the 
empire, and are not to be looked for in eastern sculptures. 

The prophet Nahum (iii. 3) says : ' The horseman lifteth up 
both the bright sword and the glittering sj)ear.* Accordingly, 
the horsemen are armed either with the sword and bow, or with 
the sword and a long spear. They wore short tunics, and their 
legs and feet were bare. When riding without pads or saddles, 
they sat with their knees almost on a level with the horse's 
bac^ ; but after the introduction of saddles, their limbs appear 
to have been more free, and they wore greaves or boots, but 
were still unprovided with stirrups. An archer requires both 
his hands to be disengaged for his weapons; and the bow 

62 Fifteenth Week— Fifth Day. 

would therefore appear to be the most unsu table of weapons 
to be used on horseback Th s d fficulty was met at certainly 
a costly expend ture of human and an mal power by providing 
a second ho seman who n action rode bes de the archer, and 
held and gu ded his steed so that, n fact the efRc ency of 
every bow was at the expense of two men and two horses. 
Those anned with the spear the most su able weapon for 
cavalry, had no need of a second horseman to hold the reins. 
The riding horses are less profusely ornamented than those in 
harness, the horsemen be ng probably of nfenor rank to those 
who fought n chanots The head stall was surmounted by an 

arched crest, and around the neck was an embroidered collar, 
ending in a rich tassel or bell. It will he called to mind, that 
bells for the necks of horses are mentioned by the prophet 
Zechariah (xiv. zo). In at least one of the sculptured ex- 
amples, the bell very distinctly appears. 

Chariots also figured largely in Assyrian warfare. The king 
and principal officers always appear in chariots, never on horse- 
back, nor, except in sieges, on foot. Each chariot contained 
two or three persons. The king was always accompanied in 
the chariot by two attendants^the charioteer, and the warrior 
who protected the royal person with a shield, the latter being 
exchanged, in time of peace, for a eunuch with an umbrella. 

Horses and Chariots. 


The Assyrian chariot seems to have been made of wood, and 
open behind, but, unhke those used by the Egyptians, com- 
pletely panelled at the sides. It varied considerably in fonn at 
different periods. As represented in the eariiest monuments. 

it is low, with the upper part rounded. To each side were 
affixed, as in Egypt, two quivers containing arrows, a small 
crooked bow, a javelin, and a battle-axe. In the Egj-ptian 
chariots there are only two horses ; but, although the yoke of 

the Assyrian chariot is only for two, there are generally three 
in harness. As there is no indication of traces, nor can it be 
ascertained from the sculptures how the third horse was at- 
tached, it is conjectured that it was intended to supply the 
place of one of the other horses when killed or seriously 

64 Fifteenth Week — Fifth Day. 

wounded, and did not actually draw. In these earlier chariots 
the wheels have six spokes, but in later examples the number 
is eight. Other changes, both in the form and size of the 
chariot, also appear. It is larger, and much higher, the wheel 
alone being almost as high as a man. The upper part is not 
rounded, but square, with a projection in front, that may have 
been a case to receive arrows, quivers being no longer attached 
to the sides, as in the older examples. The panels are carved 
and adorned with rosettes and tassels. The whole chariot is 
thus brought to a nearer resemblance to the old Persian chariot, 
with which, as copied from the sculptures at Persepolis, the 
public have long been acquainted. They seem to have been 
often completely covered with ornaments. Those represented 
in the earlier monuments had a very elegant moulding or border 
around the sides ; and Layard thinks they were probably in- 
laid with gold, silver, and precious woods, and also painted. 
In one case, the figure of a king drawing a bow is placed as a 
device on a chariot panel. Chariots armed with scythes do 
not appear, though the statement of a Greek historian might 
have led us to look for them.^ 

The harness and trappings of the chariot horses were ex- 
tremely rich and elegant — certainly not less so than those of the 
Eg)^tians. Plumes waved over the heads of the animals, or 
fanciful crests rose gracefully in an arch above their ears, and 
descended in front to their nostrils ; and to these ornaments 
were sometimes appended long ribands or streamers, that 
floated in the wind. Large tassels of wool or silk, dyed of many 
colours, fell on the forehead, and were attached to many parts 
of the harness. The bridle generally consisted of a head-stall, 
a strap divided into three parts connected with the bit, and 
straps over the forehead, under the cheeks, and behind the 
ears. All these details were elaborately ornamented ; and it is 
probable that the bit, as well as many ornaments of the bridle 
and trappings, were of gold and other precious materials. 

^ Ctesias, who says that chariots so armed were in the army of Ninus ; 
but scholars seldom rely much upon the imcorroborated statements of this 

Terms of Submission, 6 5 

Round the necks of the horses were hung tassels, rosettes, 
and engraved beads. Three straps, richly embroidered, passed 
under the fore part of the belly, keeping the harness and chariot- 
pole in their places ; and a breast-band, adorned by tassels, was 
also supported by these straps. Embroidered clothes, or trap- 
pings, were frequently thrown over the backs of the chariot 
horses, and almost covered the body from the ears to the tail. 
Such clothes are mentioned by Ezekiel (xxvii. 20): 'Dedan was 
thy merchant in precious clothes for chariots.' 

The chariot horses of the later Assyrian period differed 
entirely in their trappings and ornaments from those of the 
earlier. High plumes, generally thre^ in number, and rising 
one above the other, waved over their heads. Frequently an 
arched crest and clusters of tassels were placed between their 
ears. Similar tassels fell over their foreheads and hung round 
their necks. The harness attached to the yoke was more pro- 
fusely ornamented with rosettes and fringes than that of the 
earlier Egyptian chariots; but the ornaments showed less variety 
and taste. The manes of the horses were either allowed to fall 
loosely on the neck, and were platted, or were cut short, and 
stood erect. In the earlier sculptures, the tails of the horses 
were simply bound in the centre with ribands ; in the later, the 
end is platted, as is still the case in Persia and Turkey, and 
tied up in a bunch. 

These particulars will furnish an adequate conception of the 
nature and appearance of that Assyrian force in horses and 
chariots, which invaded first Israel and then Judah, and which, 
from the frequent allusions of the prophets, appears to have 
been regarded by the people generally with mingled feelings of 
admiration and alarm. 

Jfiftjemf^ W%^—^vd\ gag* 


After a great deal of preliminary abuse of the same quality of 
' coarseness,' which still characterizes even the state language 


66 Fifteenth Week — Sixth Day, 

of the East, and which, in this case, was designed to strike fear 
into the hearts of the troubled Hebrews, Rabshakeh at length 
comes to deliver in direct language *the words of the great 
king, the king of Assyria/ He is careful, doubtless for good 
reasons, to deliver this message in the first person, as the mouth- 
piece of the king, whose words he brings, and in whose name 
he speaks; and cautious observers may note some essential 
differences between the tone of this message and that of the 
preamble by which the boisterous ambassador introduces it It 
is more sober, dignified, and quiet It reasons and persuades 
rather than threatens ; and its purport is to set forth the advan- 
tages and necessity of a peaceable submission, and the utter 
uselessness of opposition. It ends, indeed, in what is to us, 
and was to those who heard the words, atrocious blasphemy. 
It evinces that he knew not the Lord, whose power he put, as 
the heathen were apt to do, on a level with that of other gods, 
whose votaries he had overcome ; but it does not show that he 
knew the almightiness of Jehovah, and defied it 

We may not pass unobserved the title of ^ the great king,' 
which the Assyrian general gives to his master — ^a title which 
the Jews gave to the Lord only, but which the lords of the great 
eastern empires were fond of appropriating to themselves. It 
is in their view equivalent to the other- Oriental title of * king of 
kings,' and in essential significance corresponds to * emperor.* 
It is likely tiiat the wedge-shaped inscriptions, when they come 
to be more fiiUy understood, will furnish some curious facts in 
illustration of the Assyrian practice in the use of high regal 

This * great king,' by the mouth of his spokesman, sa)rs to 
the Jerusalemites, * Make an agreement with me by a present 
and come out to me : and eat ye every one of his vine, and 
every one of his fig-tree, and drink ye every one the waters 
of his own cistern.' This looks very sweet and pleasant ; and 
the uninitiated may be apt to wonder how these intractable 
Hebrews could resist the proposed amenities and agreeable 
prospects. Interpreted into plainer language, the invitation 
loses sometibing is. its pleasant colour. It means, Come out 

Terms of Sudmission. 67 

and submit yourselves to me, acknowledge my authority, 
abandon your defence, and forego your national liberties ; and, 
in testimony thereof, come not empty-handed, but bring out a 
handsome tribute, in acknowledgment of the obligations your 
new relation inspires ; and, having thus become my subjects 
and servants, you shall then not be slain, nor your cities 
destroyed, but you shall be left for a time in the enjoyment of 
your substance, and may yet for a time eat to the fiill of your 
own food. 

The passage shows, moreover, what terms the Assyrians were 
accustomed to offer to those who submitted to their yoke 
without resistance ; and they are not essentially different from 
those which invaders have in all ages offered or imposed. The 
Israelites themselves seem to have offered such tenns to all but 

the doomed nations of Canaan. Perhaps they are as fevouiable 
(except as regards the ultimate deportation, to irfiich we shall 
presently ccnne) as those now offered by European conquerors. 
Periiaps they are rather more so — as a modem fashion has 
grown up of making a conquered people pay for the expense of 
being conquered. However, in connection with this subject^ 
and in remembrance of the treaties formerly contracted with 
Assyrian monarchs by former kings of Israel and Judah, one of 
the sculptured slabs of Nineveh acquires a scriptural interest, 
as it represents the fonnation of a treaty of peace of this nature. 
In this slab the king has alighted from his chariot to meet 
on foot, with condescending consideration, the ambassador, or 
prince, of the other contracting party. A eunuch holds the 
very ancient ensign of royalty — an umbrella— over the king's 

68 Fifteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

head, who retains his bow in his left hand and an arrow in his 
right hand, which is uplifted in the eastern mode of contracting 
a solemn engagement. The other party who stands before him 
has also his right hand raised in like manner. The aspect of 
this person is that of one who has been brought to terms after 
an engagement, yet has not been wholly conquered. There is 
nothing to indicate equality with the king on the one hand, 
while on the other there is no appearance of abased submission. 
His body is not bent ; and he retains his sword by his side, 
although his hands are empty, — ^indeed his left arm is in a kind 
of sling, as if to indicate that he had been wounded.^ And if 
it be rightly interpreted thus, it may be taken as almost a 
Hogarthian touch on the part of the Assyrian sculptor, for in- 
dicating a man's condition. The arm in a sling, under such 
circumstances, is the history of a battle. We at first doubted 
whether this seeming sHng might not be a kind of handcuff; 
but, on reflection, it appeared that the ancient Oriental hand- 
cuffs confined both hands together ; and if one were handcuffed, 
it would surely be the right hand, especially in the case of a 
man admitted to come before the king with his sword at his 
left side. ' He has therefore a wounded arm in a sling ; being, 
we apprehend, the only example in ancient sculpture or painting 
of such a circumstance. 

The 'great king,* however, does not deceive the Hebrews 
into the expectation that their submission will secure them in 
the permanent possession of their own lands. No ; that was 
not the policy of the eastern conquerors of those ages. They 
removed nations from one land to another, partly to concen- 
trate valuable populations in places where most needed, and 
partly to secure submission by the destruction of local associa- 
tions — the ties of country and home, which form the basis of 
national patriotism. The king therefore says, that this is only 
a temporary arrangement, until, after finishing the campaign, 
he shall return and take them away ; but this grievous intima- 

^ The point is differently rendered in engravings ; but this is the impres- 
sion we derive from a narrow inspection of the original marble in the British 


Terms of Submission. 69 

tion he tries to mollify, by informing them that they will be 
nothing the worse for their removal, for they will be taken to 
a land like their own land. Like it in what ? — ^in being, as 
Palestine, 'a land of com and wine, a land of bread and 

This representation is correct enough. Assyria was the 
country intended ; and this country has, in fact, considerable 
resemblance to Palestine, in its being a land of mountains and 
plains — ^with analogous variations of temperature, and with 
nearly similar productions from the soil. Taking Assyria as 
corresponding nearly to the modem Kurdistan, it may be 
described as a country, the general elevation of which, and the 
height of its mountain ranges, secure it from the scorching 
heats to which the people of Mesopotamia are exposed in the 
very same latitude ; while the cheerful vales and the long ter- 
races on the sides of the mountains boast of the green taracanth 
plants, at the same time that they yield gum, and produce the 
vine, as well as other fruit trees. The forests, in addition to 
the ash and Oriental plane, have the finest walnut-trees in great 
abundance; and the oaks are noted for the quality of their 
gall-nuts. The honey, which is found in holes under ground, 
or in hives made of mud, is remarkably fine, as well as very 
abundant, and it produces a fragrant wax, which is largely 
exported. In addition to these, the valleys grow silk, cotton, 
tobacco, hemp, pulse, wheat, barley, rice, Indian com, sumach, 
sesame, and the castor-oil plant Melons and pumpkins grow 
to an enormous size, and flowers of all kinds, particularly the 
gigantic rose, are abundant. When Herodotus says that the 
Ass)rrians did not cultivate the vine, the olive, or the fig, he 
must either have been mistaken, or have limited his observa- 
tion to the plains towards Mesopotamia, where the heat of 
summer is very strong. The vine is actually represented in 
the sculptures of Nineveh ; and, indeed, the testimony of the 
present text is conclusive as to the com and the vines. 

The title * great king,' given by Rabshakeh to his sovereign, was 
no mere eastern exaggeration. No doubt it was in ancient times. 

70 Fifteenth Week — Sixth Day, 

as it still is, customary in the East to give high-sounding titles 
to all rulers ; but in this instance it was appropriate. During 
Sennacherib's reign, which extended over twenty-two years (b.c 
702-680), the Assyrian empire attained its greatest pitch of pros- 
perity. In the extent of his conquests, the magnificence of his 
buildings, and the splendour of his court, he holds the first place 
among Assyrian monarchs. He overran in succession Babylonia, 
Media, Phoenicia, Judaea, Egypt, Cilicia, Armenia, and Chaldaea ; 
and he either forced ^them to submit to his rule, or to give immense 
ransoms for their liberty. The destruction of his vast army on the 
southern borders of Palestine, crippled his enterprises for a time ; 
but he soon recovered from even this terrible blow, and resumed 
the course of his victories. 

' But i^ as a warrior, Sennacherib deserves to be placed in the 
foremost rank of the Assyrian kings ; as a builder, and a patron of 
art, he is still more eminent The great palace which he raised at 
Nineveh surpassed in size and splendour all earlier edifices, and 
was never excelled in any respect except by one later building. 
The palace of Asshur-banipal, built on tiie same platform by the 
grandson of Sennacherib, was, it must be allowed, more exquisite in 
its ornamentation ; but even this edifice <lid not equal the great 
work of Sennacherib in the number of its apartments, or the gran- 
deur of its dimensions. Sennacherib's palace covered an area of 
above eight acres. It consisted of a number of grand halls and 
smaller chambers, arranged around at least three courts or quad- 
rangles. ... It preserved all the main features of Assyrian archi- 
tecture. It was elevated on a platform, eighty or ninety feet above 
the plain, artificially constructed and covered with a pavement of 
bricks. It had probably three grand fagades, one on the north-east, 
where it was ordinarily approached from the town, and the two 
others on the south-east and south-west, where it was carried nearly 
to the end of the platform, and overhung the two streams of the 
Khosrcu and the Tigris.' 

The decorations of the apartments of this splendid edifice are of 
the greatest interest to the historian and the antiquary. The walls 
were covered with slabs of alabaster sculptured in relief, represent- 
ing the scenes of everyday life : the trains of servants bearing the 
viands for the royal table, with cakes, fruit, and other delicacies. 
* Elsewhere he puts before us the entire process of carving and 
transporting a colossal bull, from the first removal of the huge stone 
in its rough state from the quarry, to its final elevation on a palace 
mound, as part of the great gateway of a royal residence 

Turned Waters. 7 1 

The construction of the mound is most elaborately represented. 
Brickmakers are seen moulding the bricks at its base, while work- 
men with their baskets at their backs, full of earth, bricks, stones, 
or rubbish, toil up the ascent — for the mound is already half raised, 
and empty their burdens out upon the summit'^ 

Elsewhere the slabs are covered with elaborate sculptures, repre- 
senting his various expeditions and conquests ; and giving also in 
cuneiform characters the annals of his reign. The inscriptions are 
among the most precious records of antiquity which have been 
handed down to us. The annals of the first eight yeaurs of Scnnar 
cherib's reign are preserved on a cylinder, found by Colonel Taylor, 
and now in the British MuseunL The narrative of six years' con- 
quests is also given on two great bulls which stood at the entrance 
of the palace of Koyunjik ; and which are likewise in our National 

JxfjU^nfj^ Mtek— Siefr^ntj^ gaj* 


The Lord's answer through the prophet Isaiah to the prayer 
of king Hezekiah, is a striking denunciation of the pride and 
arrogance of the Assyrian king, and comprises some parti- 
culars to which the attention of the reader may profitably be 

He is represented as boasting : ^ I have digged, and drunk 
water ; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the 
rivers of the besieged places.' Various interpretations of this 
have been proposed. Some think the first clause refers to his 
greatness, as evinced in the wells he had digged in his own 
country for the supply of water, on the common ground, that 
this was in arid countries a work so great and meritorious as to 
become the boast of kings. But this seems to have no special 
application to the expedition in which he is engaged, and to 
which the other examples of his greatness refer. And, besides, 
Assyria is by no means an arid country; and expressions which 
might be appropriate in regard to Arabia, Syria, or Persia, 
cease to be so in that land. We therefore gready prefer the 

* Rawlinson's Ancieni Mmmixkkt^ ii. 457 seq. 

72 Fifteentk Week — Seventh Day, 

interpretation which takes the verse to mean, that so irresistible 
was the king's force and so numerous his troops, that no diffi- 
culties or privations could retard his victorious march : where 
there was no water when wanted, he had digged for it till it 
was found ; and if found where he desired it not, as in the 
ditches and canals around fortified places, he had speedily 
caused it to be exhausted — ^both circimistances impl)H[ng great 
resources and innumerable hands. It is with the last fact that 
we are chiefly concerned, the other needing little explanation. 

It was then as now usual, whenever practicable, to surround 
a fortified place with ditches, with canals, or with streams, 
diverted firom their course to be brought around the fortress. 
Often the bend of a river was regarded as forming a suitable 
site, for it was then only necessary to cut a canal across the 
base in order to isolate it. For the same reason, islands in 
rivers were much liked for fortresses. Both Egyptian and 
Assyrian sculptures exhibit such strongholds surrounded by 
water ; and in Scripture history, we find * the city of waters,' 
the capture of which seemed to Joab an exploit of prime im- 
portance, in that it ensured the taking of 'the royal city.' 
2 Samuel xii. 26, 27. Nothing is clearer, indeed, than that 
intervening water was regarded as rendering a place almost 
impregnable ; and that nothing ordinarily remained, but either 
to starve the besieged into surrender, or to find some means 
of diverting or draining the waters ; and this last exploit the 
Assyrian king seems to say that it was always in his power to 
do, by means of the numerous hosts at his command. From 
their chief city being seated on the bank of a great river, and 
from their country being intersected by several secondary and 
many third-rate streams, the Ass)nians seem to have had more 
resources against a river fortress than any other people ; more 
than even the Eg)rptians, whose experience was limited to one 
great river and many canals. There are several sculptures 
representing the Assyrians engaged in warlike operations 
against fortresses surrounded by water. Some of the bas- 
reliefs give, indeed, a kind of pictorial history of an attack by 
the Assyrians upon a water-protected fortress, that could not 

Turned Waters. 


be approached without constructing a bridge or dyke. Nume- 
rous boats are seen bringing the necessaiy materials ; and on 
one slab is seen a fortress placed on a mountain, at the foot of 
which the dyke is akeady begun. These boats, propelled by 
four or five rowers, aie, with few exceptions, carrying squared 
planks, some of which, tied to the stern-post by a cord, float 
behind, and there are others which the boats appear to sustain 
in a position difficult to define. The war-boats thus laden are 
all turned towards the same point — the fortress to be attacked. 
At the foot of the mountain on which it stands a row of posts 
is seen, which indicates that the bridge or dyke is begun ; and 
a dinilar row, placed a little above, shows that the place was 
to be reached from two points. Near the mountain are seen 
sailors occupied in unloading the boats of pieces of wood. 

Some raise them on their shoulders and put out one of their 
ends, while others who are on land are harnessed to a cord 
which is passed through a hole in the other end. All this ap- 
pears to refer to a maririme rather than a river fortress, so that 
here the besiegers could not resort to their favourite stratagem, 
of draining the waters. 

In another scene we observe a fortress with towers seated 
amid the waters, in which are three persons swimming for life 
towards the stronghold. One of them, and he not the hind- 
most, pushes on by the force of his arms ; the others sustain 
themselves on inflated goat-skins — ^the present, no less than the 
ancient, method of crossing the rivers of Mesopotamia. Well 
may they hasten, for on the bank are seen two Assyrian warriors 
in their high caps, hastening on and taking aim at the swimmers, 


Fifteenth Week — Seventh Day. 

the second of whom has abeady been hit in two places. The 
adventure is watched with animated interest by the besieged 
from the walls. The men in the water seem to be three 
prisoners who have made their escape from the enemy, and 
are pursued and well-nigh overtaken at the watei's edge. 

In the sentence passed upon this proud king, the Lord says ; 
' Because thy rage against me, and Uiy tumult is come up into 
mine ears ; therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my 

bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by 
which thou camest' Commentators have usually explained 
this as a metaphor drawn from the mode of dealing with wild 
or refractory animals. But it now appeais that it was literally 

Turned Waters. 


the custom of the Assyrians themselves thus to treat the captives 
of their sword. In the sculptures we see prisoners (probably of 
distinction) hauled before the king by a rope fastened to rings 
passed through the lips and nose. In the piece we have copied 
from Botta's magnificent work, the king is represented as hold- 
ing a rope fastened to rings, which pass through the lips of three 
captives, one of whom is pierced in the eye by the spear of the 
king, at whose feet he kneels in supplication. 

S^Mnxd^ Wktk—^mi gag* 


There is a sort of people of whom we hear little when they 
can do without us — when the sun of their prosperity shines out, 
when their days are happy and their nights joyous, when their 
purses and bams are full, and when they can, as they suppose, 
aflford to look down upon and shun the friends of their youth 
and the patrons of their struggling years. But when distress 
befalls, we hear of them again ; once more we are well remem- 
bered; once more we are most dear friends; their presence 
again graces our well-frequented doors, and our ears are filled 
with doleful tales of man's wrong to man, and our sympathies 
are claimed by the pitiful tears of self-condolence. How this 
may strike us — ^whether with good-humoured and forgetful com- 
passion, or with austere repulsion — depends upon circumstances, 
on habit of mind or judgment, or perhaps even on the temper 
of the moment. But it is to be feared that many who have the 
most acute perception of the flagrancy of this demeanour, 
entirely forget that the case is altogether the same with them- 
selves in their approaches to the Lord, who has made and re- 
deemed them. Of such the prophet speaks : * Lord, in trouble 
have they visited Thee ; they poured out a prayer when thy 
chastening was upon them.' T/ieny but not till then, they visit 
Him, they honour Him, they supplicate Him, whom in the day 
of their prosperity they shunned and neglected. It is often 
said — and the observation, though ancient, is rendered, by man's 
living experience, for ever new — ^that friends flock around us 
in prosperous times, and flee from us when the evil days come ; 
but it has been less observed, though it is scarcely less frequent, 
that the friends who eschewed us in the day of their gladness, 
repair to us when their trouble comes. 


Visiting the Lord in Trouble. "j^j 

It IS often a profitable exercise thus to observe the great 
difference in our perceptions and judgment, when a matter lies 
between man and man, and when between man and God. Alas 
for us, if in all things the same measure be meted to ourselves 
that we deal out to others. But it will not be so in this instance. 
It may be doubtful how a man — and a good man too — will 
receive the ungenerous runagates who thus come to him. But 
there is no question at all how the Lord will receive even those 
who, after long and insulting neglect, have at last only been 
driven to Him by the stress of trouble and want. So that they 
have come at all, He heeds it not. To have come is of itself 
something. It at least implies confidence in his loving-kindness, 
his mercy, his overflowing compassion for all that want and 
suffer ; and in his disposition to forget past slights and wrongs 
in those who have at last come to his door, casting themselves 
upon that generous pity which, although a great and just King, 
He is enabled, in his beloved Son, to show to all that come to 
Him. Certainly the portals shall be flung wide open for one 
of these : he shall not want for robe, nor ring, nor sandals ; and 
if the fatted calf be not killed for him, he shall yet, penniless as 
he is, eat and drink abundantly, without money and without 
price. The price has been already paid. 

If we pray for the afflicted, let us pray not less earnestly for 
the prosperous and the indulged ; they need our prayers not 
less, but more. It is surely a strong argument for the fact that 
our ultimate satisfactions are only to be found in the life beyond, 
that in this life it is never safe for us to be long without sorrow 
—without some kind of humbling, scourging, or taking down* 
Then we may possess joys measureless and unutterable, with- 
out stint, and yet without peril ; but here we cannot. And 
therefore it is, that the Lord who knows our frame so well, and 
remembers that we are but dust, takes care that those who are 
dear to Him shall not, for any loDg time, be without the whole- 
some discipline of his chastening hand. It is his appointed 
means of bringing his wanderers home ; and it is effectual by 
reason of that appointment, and not from any inherent quahty 
of affliction, which, apart from its appointed use as a means. 

yS Sixteenth Week— First Day. 

under the controlling grace of the Spirit, would tend rather, 
like the repeated action of fire upon iron, to harden the heart 
and deaden its sensibilities. It is only in the hand of the 
Spirit that affiction can have a contrary effect The child 
sporting in the streets, flees to his home when he has received 
an injury or a hurt, or when peril appears j but his previous 
knowledge that it is his home — that it is the only place in his 
little world where he can reckon upon safety, and where he is 
sure of protection and condolence — gives this direction to his 
steps. So it is not the aUen and the stranger whom affliction 
drives to God for refuge, but those who already know Him as 
their Father, and who have learned that his house, fix>m which 
they had wandered, is their true dwelling-place and certain 

In reference to the text we have chosen, a plain but sensible 
and pious writer remarks : ^ Even those who know and serve God 
may become remiss and careless in prayer and in other duties, 
until God is pleased to reprove them for their sins, and to correct 
them for their profit They may preserve the form while desti- 
tute of the spirit of prayer ; they may draw nigh to God widi 
iheir lips^ while their hearts are &xfi:om Him ; they may seldom 
visit the throne of grace, and God may have their homage only 
on particular occasions. In the pleasant day of prosperity we 
are too prone, like the generation of Israel, to say to God, " We 
are lords, we will come no more unto Thee ;" and in this manner 
to discover our insensibility to the divine goodness. But when 
the gloom of adversity arrives, and every refiige feils, then we 
are ready to exclaim with David, " O Lord, I said, Thou art 
my refuge and my portion in the land of the living." Psalm 
cxliL 5.*^ To the same author we are indebted for the sug- 
gestion, that although God is firequently said to visit men, the 
expression of men's visiting God is peculiar to the passage now 
before us. ^ It seems to import, that in the time of distress the 
church remembered the Lord; they looked towards his holy 
habitation ; they had immediate recourse for necessary suj^>ort 

> Macculoch, Leehtres on the Propheeia of Isaiah, London, 1794. VoL 
ii p. 451. 

Assyrian Sieges. 79 

and seasonable relief to Him who is a refuge in afiOictiony and 
a present help in time of need.' 


Sennacherib bad in his message defied the Lord to deliver 
Jerusalem out of his hands. The Lord's answer is : * Thus saith 
the Lord, concerning the king of Assyria, he shall not come 
into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with 
shields, nor cast a bank against it.' This, of course, describes 
the proceedings which the Ass)nians intended to adopt in 
besieging the city, and which they would have adopted had 
not the Lord's preventing arm been interposed. The descrip- 
tion acquires a new interest to us firom its being in perfect 
accordance with, and veiy completely illustrated by, the sculp- 
tures of Nineveh. 

The first step in the siege of a fortified place seems to have 
been to advance the battering-ram. This is not, nor indeed is 
any other engine of war, named in the text ; but their presence 
on such occasions is expressed in other passages, and is implied 
here in the fact of ^ casting a bank ' up against the place assailed, 
the only use of such a bank being for the advance and service 
of the military engines. Where no natural hills existed for the 
site of a fortress, an artificial one was made for the purpose. 
Hence all fortified places were on natural or artificial elevations. 
In this case, an inclined plane (the * bank ' of the text), reaching 
to the summit of the mound, was formed of earth, stones, or 
trees ; and the besiegers were then able to bring their engines 
to the foot of the walls. This road was not unfrequently 
covered with bricks, forming a kind of paved way up which the 
ponderous machines could be drawn without much difficulty. 
These embankments not only enabled the besiegers to push 
their battering-rams and towers up to the fortress, but also to 
escalade the walls, the sunmiit of which might else have been 

8o Sixteenth Week — Second Day. 

beyond the reach of their ladders. The battering-rams were 
of several kinds. Some were joined to moveable towers, which 
held warriors and aimed men The whole then formed one 
great temporary buildmg the top of which is represented in the 
sculptures as on a level with the walls and even the turrets of 
a besieged city In some cases the battering ram is without 
wheels, and when m this form it was perhaps constructed on 
the spot, and not intended to be moved and the moveable 
tower was probablj sometimes unprovided with the ram, though 
not so represented in the sculptures hitherto discovered. 

That which the Assynans were not allowed to do the Baby- 
lonians under Nebuchadnezzar afterwards did for we are told 
that when he besieged Jerusalem he built forts against it round 

about.' These forts or towers, if stationary, were solidly con- 
structed of wood; if moveable, they consisted of a light frame 
covered with wicker-work. For these works all the available 
trees in the neighbourhood were cut down; and this was a very 
ancient custom, to which we shall soon have further occasion 
to refer. 

It is observable that when the battering-ram was unconnected 
with any artificial tower, but was worked independently, its 
framework was frequently covered with a cloth or some kind 
of drapery, edged with fringes and otherwise ornamented. 
Sometimes it may have been covered with hides. It was 
moved on either four or six wheels, and was furnished with one 
ram or two. The mode in which the rams were worked, can- 
not be made out from the sculptures ; but it may be presumed 

Assyrian Sieges. 


that they were partly suspended by a rope fastened to the out- 
side of the machine, and that men directed and impelled them 
from within, as among the Egyptians. 

The artificial tower was usually occupied by two men ; one 
of whom discharged his arrows against the besieged, whom he 
was able, from his lofty position, to harass more effectually 
than if he had been below, while the other held up a shield for 
his companion's defence. This statement alone would form an 
adequate illustration of the shooting of arrows against the city, 
and the coming before it with shields, as referred to in the text 
But still more adequate illustratioD may be found. We appre- 

hend that a body of archers kept harassing the men who ven- 
tured to show themselves upon the walls and towers of the 
besieged town or fortress, while the storming party advanced 
under this protection and beneath the cover of their shields to 
the walls, and mounted the scaling ladders. Of course, there 
were other applications of these instruments of war, especially 
as shield-bearers were much employed, under various circum- 
stances, in protecting the archers from the missiles of the 

In a very interesting tablet representing the si^e of a fortress, 
several remarkable particulais in connection with this matter are 


82 Sixteenth Week—Second Day. 

aiforded. Two walls, one within the other, and strengthened 
with towers, enclose a hill, upon the sides and summit of 

which are several detached edifices. The towers have square 
windows and arched doors — a most interesting and important 

Assyrian Sieges. 83 

fact in connection with the controversy respecting the date of 
the arch, the antiquity of which has been very much questioned. 
The besiegers, armed with lances and protected by large shields, 
are ascending actively up the ladders ; and that the archers are 
meanwhile at work, though they do not appear in the tablet, is 
shown by men transfixed with arrows falling from the summit 
of the fortress. The inhabitants are in dismay, and the place 
is manifestly on the point of being taken. Indeed, outside the 
whole length of the outer wall are a number of poor wretches 
impaled, after the peculiar manner of the Assyrians. These 
are no doubt prisoners, thus treated to strike terror into the 
besieged ; reminding us of the account given by Josephus, of 
the number of Jews crucified for the same purpose, outside the 
walls of Jerusalem, by the Romans under Titus. In a very 
similar scene, there are variations which more clearly show the 
use of the archers to annoy the besieged when the storming 
parties mount the ladders ; for not only do men fall thickly 
from the walls, but numerous arrows are represented as sticking 
in the shields of the besieged, and as lodged in the mortar 
beneath the coping-stones of the towers. The base of this 
sculpture, instead of being, like the other, occupied with men 
impaled, offers a painful scene of prisoners, male and female, 
for the most part in bonds, driven along into captivity with 
blows and insults. 

One piece remarkably illustrates the lifting up of the shields 
and shooting the arrows. Two warriors are seen plying their 
arrows vigorously, while in advance of them is a man kneeling 
on one knee under his shield, probably on his way to the 
walls to join the soldiers, who, similarly protected by their 
shields, are trying to set fire to the gates, — a device as old as 
the time of the Judges ; for Abimelech was advancing to fire 
the gate of Thebez, when he was struck down by a millstone 
which a woman cast from the wall. 

Sometimes the bowmen are seen discharging their arrows 
from behind the cover of a high curved shield, which, resting 
upon the ground, protected the persons of the besiegers entirely 
from the spears and arrows of the enemy. Each of these re- 

84 Sixteenth Week — Second Day. 

maskable shields screened two warriors, one of whom had 
cha^e of the shield, while the other shot his arrows. 

The ordinary shield used by the Assyrians during sieges was 
also very lai^e, but not strong in proportion, being, like the 
one just described, made either of wicker-work or of hides — 
probably wicker-work covered with hides. Sometimes they 
appear to have been made of small pieces of wood or leather 
caiefuHy united. There were, in fact, various kinds of shields, 
suited by their form and materials to different services. 

The arrows of the Assyrians appear to have been made of 
reeds, and kept in a quiver slung over the back. They were 
barbed with iron or copper, arrow-heads of these metals having 
been found among the ruins. The bow was drawn to die 
cheek or to the ear, as among the Saxons, and not to Uie 
breast, after the £ishion of the Greeks. 

The text of the day, together with that in Ezekiel iv. 3, 
contiuns reference to all these modes of attack upon fortified 
places. In the latter, speaking of Jerusalem, the prophet says : 

Assyrian Religious Notions. 85 

' Lay si^e against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a 
mount against it ; set the camp also against it, and set battering- 
rams against it round about' 

Shfitentj^ Me«h— SD&irb gay. 


Some curious matters in regard to the religious notions of the 
Assyrians transpire in the transaction before us. 

Rabshakeh was aware that the Hebrews avowedly trusted for 
deliverance to Jehovah their God, which to hun must have ap- 
peared a reasonable tmst, supposing that this God had the will 
and the power to deliver his people. But he contended with 
them that they had incurred their God's displeasure, and that 
therefore they could not expect Him to move in their behalf. 
This was tme enough in one sense, but not in the sense the 
Assyrian intended. He had perhaps heard generally that the 
nation was under the Lord's displeasure, and, casting about to 
find the cause, he blunderingly ascribed it to the removal, by 
the reigning king, of the altars and high places throughout the 
land. He knew that these had been dedicated to Jehovah, and 
therefore concluded that Hezekiah had so far striven to put 
down his worship— little thinking that by this act he had won 
&.vour with God, and had done his best to uphold the purity 
and unity of the Lord's worship. Rabshakeh's mistake was 
natural enough, and is of a class of mistakes which foreigners 
are still apt to fall into, in passing judgment upon the im- 
perfectly understood proceedings of a strange people. 

Having thus shown, as he thought, that the Jews had no 
right to suppose the Lord willing to move for their deliverance, 
he further on asserts that He was not able to deliver them, from 
the fact that the deities of no other nation had been able to 
deliver their people from the Assyrian conquerors. * Where 
are the gods of Hamath and Arphad ? where are the gods of 
Sepharvaim ? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?* 

86 Sixteenth Week — Third Day. 

That was a home-stroke, and he knew it. But he goes on : 
* Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have 
delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should 
deliver Jerusalem out of my hand ?' Here he treads on ground 
full of danger to the Assyrians, by daring to build his inferences 
upon the supposition that Jehovah was no better than the local 
deities — ^which yet were no gods — ^worshipped by the nations 
his master had overthrown. The author of the books of 
Chronicles puts it concisely in this shape, as the germ of the 
blasphemy which necessitated that the Assyrians should be 
taught by judgments to distinguish between Jehovah and the 
gods of the conquered nations : ' And they spake against the 
God of Jerusalem as against the gods of the people of the earth, 
which were the work of the hands of men.' 

Not content with this, and thinking to discourage and terrify 
them wholly, Rabshakeh, in the name of his master, has the 
astounding audacity to pretend to a commission from Jehovah 
himself to destroy the land. * And am I now come up without 
the Lord against this land to destroy it? The Lord said unto 
me, Go up against this land and destroy it.* How are we to 
understand this amazing declaration ? Is it a gratuitous false- 
hood, or is it founded on a misconception, which allowed the 
speaker to suppose it true ? Some think it possible that, by 
one channel or another, king Sennacherib had heard rumours 
of Isaiah's earlier prophecy (x. 5, 6), that the Lord would send 
the Assyrians to punish the Hebrew people for their sins, and 
that Rabshakeh now pleads this as his authority, to show them 
that resistance was hopeless. Others deem it more probable 
that he uses the name of Jehovah here as synon3rmous with 
that of *god,' and means to say that he had been divinely 
directed to come up in that expedition. All the ancient 
warriors usually consulted their gods, and endeavoured by 
auguries to obtain what they regarded as the divine approba- 
tion of their plans of conquest ; and thus Rabshakeh may mean 
no more than that his master came up now under the divine 
sanction and direction. We object to this latter view; for 
Jehovah could only be known to him as the name of the 

Assyrian Religious Notions, 87 

national God of the Hebrews, and he therefore would be little 
likely to identify Him, by that peculiar name, with his own 
national god, whom he had consulted, and whose votaries held 
a destructive antagonism against other gods, which, although 
unusual among the ancient heathen, is recognised in this very 
chapter, and is evinced by the inscriptions at Nineveh. We 
should, of the two, prefer the former of these explanations ; for 
we must remember that there were already numerous Jewish 
captives in Ass)nia, and that the Assyrians were now in posses- 
sion of the neighbouring realm, which had belonged to the ten 
tribes, so that there was much opportunity of knowing what was 
said and done in Judah ; and we may be sure there were not 
wanting some who would bear to the ears of * the great king' 
the agreeable tidings, that the famous prophet of Judah had 
predicted punishment to his countrymen through the Assyrians. 
This, upon the whole, seems to us more probable than the re- 
maining conjecture, which is, that Rabshakeh uses this merely 
as a pretence for dismapng the minds of the people who heard 
him, and to whom he chose especially to address himself, in 
the view of alienating their minds from their sovereign, and of 
inducing them to surrender. He knew, it is urged, that one of 
the principles of public life among the Jews, however little they 
carried it out in practice, was to acknowledge the authority and 
direction of Jehovah, and he hoped, by adducing it, to bend 
them to his purpose. But if he knew so much of the Jews as 
to be aware of this, he could not have been ignorant that the 
simplest of the men who stood there upon the wall, open- 
mouthed, to catch his words, must have had sense enough to 
see througfe so shallow a pretence. 

In the subsequent message which the Assyrian king sent to 
Hezekiah, the subtle cajolery of the cunning cup-bearer is 
ignored; and, having heard of the trust which the king of 
Judah still reposed in his God, he plainly hurls that defiance 
against this God which alone was wanting to seal his doom. 
* Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, 
Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of 
Assyria.* And then he goes on, as Rabshakeh had done, to 

88 Sixteenth Week— Third Day. 

point out the impotency of the gods of other regions to protect 
their votaries against him. It seems dear by this that the king 
had heard of the promise of deliverance which Isaiah had been 
authorized to give, after the intimidating address of Rabshakeh. 

In laying this letter from Sennacherib before the Lord, 
Hezekiah acknowledges the truth of the statement which it 
contained as, to the treatment of the heathen gods : ' Of a truth. 
Lord, the kings of Ass3rria have laid waste all the nations and 
their countries, and have cast their gods into the fire ; for they 
were no gods, but the works of men's hands, wood and stone ; 
therefore they have destroyed them^ 

We have said that this treatment of the gods of conquered 
nations was not usual among the ancients, who rather respected 
the idols of the conquered nations, believing them to be the 
real and proper gods of those nations. It is pleasant, therefore, 
to see this fact incidentally but very strikingly corroborated by 
the Nineveh inscriptions — so far as they have been translated 
by Colonel Rawlinson ; from which it appears that the Assyrians 
destroyed the idols of the conquered peoples, and forced upon 
them the worship of their own — z. species of religious propa- 
gandism by the sword, which has usually been supposed not to 
have been exercised in the East till the time of Mohammed. 

These intimations occur in the long inscriptions on the black 
basaltic obelisk which, according to Colonel Rawlinson's latest 
information, was set up about 860 B.C., that is, about fifty years 
before the events under our notice, and therefore near enough 
to them to be of contemporary value and interest. These 
inscriptions recite the exploits and greatness of an Assyrian 
king,^ who is now held by Rawlinson to have been contem- 
porary with Jehu, king of Israel, and the prophet Elisha. It 

' There is some question about the name of this king. Colonel Rawlin- 
son, in his translation of the inscription, calls him Temenbar ii., son of 
Assar-adan-pul (which he renders into Sardanapalus) ; but he now reads the 
latter as Assar-akh-baal. Professor Grotefend suggests that the former 
name should be read Shalmaneser. But this would be too late to meet 
Colonel Rawlinson's later view, confirmed as it is by the independent con- 
clusions of Dr. Hincks. The point is one respecting which we must await 
further information. 

Assyrian Religious Notions. 89 

begins with an invocation to the gods of Assyria to protect the 
empire : * The god Assarac, the great lord, king of all the great 
gods ; Ani the king. Nit the powerful, and Artenk the supreme 
god of the provinces ; Beltis the protector, mother of the gods.' 
Then follow fragments relating to other gods ; and the favour 
of all these gods, with Assarac at their head, the supreme god 
of heaven, is invoked for the protection of Assyria. Then pro- 
ceeds the record of the military expeditions of the reign, in 
which occur such passages as these : ^ And Ahuni, the son of 
Hateni, with his gods, and his chief priests, etc., I brought away 
to my country of Assjoia.' * In the city of Umen, I raised altars 
to the great gods.* * I came to the land watered by the head- 
streams which form the Tigris. The priests of Assarac in that 
land raised altars to the immortal gods. I appointed priests to 
reside in the land to pay adoration to Assarac, the great and 
powerful god, and to preside over the national worship. The 
cities of this region which did not acknowledge the god Assarac^ I 
brought under subjection^ * Then I went down to Shinar, and 
in the cities of Shinar, of Borsippa, and of Ketika, I erected 
altars and founded temples to the great gods.* * I abode in 
the country about the rivers which form the Euphrates, and 
there I set up altars to the supreme gods, and left priests in the 
land to superintend the worship.' * Sut-Mesitek, the king of 
the Arians, I put in chains ; and I brought his wives, and his 
warriors, and his gods, captive to my country at Assyria.* There 
is more of the same kind, showing that the Assjoians paid little 
respect to the gods of the nations they conquered, but endea- 
voured, wherever they went, to establish the worship of their 
own idols. 

The Assyrians had in their Pantheon one great supreme deity, 
called Asshur, and a large number of inferior deities. Asshur was 
worshipped everjrwhere throughout the empire. He was styled 
* king of all the gods,' and he was regarded as the special director 
of the Assyrian monarchs, and disposer of the destinies of the 
empire. To him princes and military leaders looked for success in 
their campaigns ; in his name they fought, and pillaged, and de- 
stroyed ; to him they dedicated the spoil ; and in every conquered 

90 Sixteenth Week —Fourth Day. 

country they established his worship, and compelled the people to 
submit to him. The Assyrians believed that Asshur was supreme 
over all the gods of all countries, and that by his power they were 
therefore able to subdue all nations. Hence, doubtless, the proud 
boast of Rabshakeh to the people of Jerusalem : ' Beware lest 
Hezekiah persuade you, saying. The Lord will deliver us. Hath 
any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand 
of the king of Assyria V 

It seems highly probable that Asshur was just the great progenitor 
of the nation, the son of Shem, deified. From first to last his posi- 
tion as supreme deity was never given to another. He remained 
fixed in the minds and affections of the nation. Other gods were 
worshipped. The sun and moon, the gods of war, of the elements, 
and of hunting were held in high veneration, and had temples dedi- 
cated to them ; but they were all considered subordinate to Asshur. 

Siarbjent]^ M^iK— Jfowii]^ gag. 


At the close of the narrative of the Assyrian invasion, we are 
told that, when the king Sennacherib had returned to Nineveh 
after the destruction of his noble army by the blast of God, he 
was slain by two of his sons while worshipping * in the house 
of Nisroch his god.' The parricides fled into Armenia ; and 
another son, Esar-haddon, ascended the throne. 

This circumstance regarding the death of Sennacherib, with 
the name here given to the god he worshipped, suggests, in 
connection with the facts yesterday produced, some inquiry 
respecting the religion of the Assyrians and the character of 
their chief god. 

The recent discoveries add little as yet to our knowledge of 
the principles of the Assyrian religion ; but they do fiimish us 
with some information respecting the forms assigned to the 
gods, and the manner of their worship. Beyond this, the dis- 
coveries go no further than to confirm the conviction previously 
entertained by scholars, that the religion of the Assyrians was. 

Nisroch. 9 1 

in its leading features, the same as that of the Chaldeans, 
namely, the worship of the heavenly bodies, especially the 
planets, under certain symbolical representations. This kind 
of religion is called Sabaeism, and is of the most ancient date. 
It is recognised in the book of Job, and is the only corruption 
of the primitive religion alluded to in that book. The allusion 
is in the noted text : * If I beheld the sun when it shined, 
or the moon walking in brightness^ and my heart hath been 
secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand (in worship), 
this also were an iniquity.' It is in accordance with all history 
and tradition, that this kind of worship originated in that part 
of the world, whence it spread in other directions. 

Mr. Layard thinks that the monuments enable him to trace 
a wide distinction between the religion of the earlier and that of 
the later Assyrians. Originally it appears to have been simple 
Sabseism, *in which the heavenly bodies were worshipped as 
mere types of the power and attributes of the supreme deity.' 
Of fire-worship, which was the earliest corruption of Sabaeism, 
there is no trace in the earlier monuments ; but there are 
abundant signs of it in the bas-reliefs of Khorsabad and 
Koyunjik, as well as in a multitude of inscribed cylinders of 
the same age. Although, therefore, the new materials are few 
for the illustration of the earlier Sabaeism, there is enough 
known respecting the later period, to aflford us some distinct 
ideas respecting the religious notions of this people in the 
period most interesting to us — ^that in which the Scripture 
history and prophecy bring them conspicuously under our 
notice. It is a state of corruption in which the ideas of God 
and his attributes, as manifested in his operations, are no 
longer sought in the heavenly bodies alone, nor alone even in 
the element of fire, but in certain material symbols and images, 
in which these ideas are supposed to be represented and typified. 
Whatever the learned, in different ages and countries, may 
have said and thought of these embodied types or symbols, 
universal experience teaches that by the great -body of the 
people — ^whose notions constitute the popular religion of every 
nation — such representations were regarded as personal exist- 

92 Sixteentk Week — Fourth Day. 

ences, and worshipped as such. Mr. Layaid labotos to prove 
the identity of this religion with that of the Fersiaiis. It might 
be the same in prindple. But if it were so io practice, in the 
age to which these sculptures belong, the Persians had been 
enabled to lelease themselves, by the time the prophets speak 
of them, from the ;noTe grossly idolatrous corruptions which, it 
may be, they had formerly shared with the Assyrians. 

We shall have to touch on this matter again when we come 
to contemplate the Persians. At present wc limit our inquiry 
to Nisroch, who seems to be mentioned in Scripture as the 
chief of the Assyrian gods. 

There is found in all the Semitic languages — Hebrew, Arabic, 
Syriac — a word, nisr, meaning an eagle — or rather the whole 
genus fake, including eagles, vultures, 
< and hawks. In the Bible, it is the wmd 
ir an eagle, and also for a vulture ; for 
I Micah i. i6, the nisr is said to be 
bald; and in Job xxxIk. 30, and Pro- 
verbs XXX. ry, it is said to feed on 
dead bodies. It has, tiierefore, been 
I long supposed, on philological grounds, 
that NiSR-ocH, which obviously comes 
from this source, designates an eagle j 
or, the syllable och^ or ach, being in- 
tensive, ' the great eagle.' When, there- 
fore, we found among the sculptures of 
Nineveh, a very conspicuous idol, representing a human figure 
with Ihe head of an eagle, it became easy to conclude that 
this was no other than Nisroch. The same figure is also of fre- 
quent occurrence, especially in the early Assyrian monuments, 
and is supposed to have represented the supreme ddty in one 
of his principal attributes ; and in corroboration, Layard cites 
a fragment of the Zoroastrian oracles preserved by Eusebius, 
in which it is stated that ' God is He that has the head of a 
hawk. He is the first, indestructible, unbegotten, indivisible, 
dissimilar ; tiie dispenser of all good, incorruptible, the best of 
the good, the wisest of the wise.' This, it must be allowed, is 

Nisroch. 93 

to the point, although the theology contained in it is Persian 
rather than Assyrian ; and we hold the two systems to be less 
identical than Mr. Layard supposes. This author throughout 
represents the system as less offensively idolatrous than it really 
was-r-an error excusable in one who seems not to have been 
well versed in the ancient religious systems and idolatries ; and 
it may here be questioned, whether the idols which he regards 
as types of the divine attributes, were not rather ideal repre- 
sentations of the planetary bodies. It was as such that images 
came to be brought into Sabaeism ; and under this view it is 
likely that the chief god of the Assyrians was no other than a 
symbolical embodiment of the sun, as 
the chief of the planetary bodies, and 
the immediate source of terrestrial life. 
This is the more likely, as the eagle 
is, in most of the ancient systems, a 
symbol of the sun. In some cases the 
eagle-head is united, not to the human 
form, but to the body of a lion ; and in this shape it bears, as 
Mr. Layard himself suggests, a resemblance to the gryphon of 
the Greek mythology, which was avowedly of earlier origin, and 
connected with Apollo or the sun. 

In the extracts which we yesterday gave from the inscriptions, 
the name of the chief Assyrian deity occurs under the form of 
Assarac, and we concur with Colonel Rawlinson in regarding 
this name as representing the biblical Nisroch. Indeed, the 
Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was made while 
probably this idol was still worshipped on the banks of the 
Tigris, gives Nasarach in one case, and Meserach in another, 
as the equivalents of the Hebrew Nisroch. The presence of 
the initial N in one form of the name, with its absence in the 
other, does indeed create a difficulty. It will be asked, which 
is the right form of the name ? and, from a natural disposition 
to set a higher value upon native memorials, and these sculp- 
tured in stone, there will probably be a general disposition to 
concur in Colonel Rawlinson's opinion, that Assarac is the 
right name changed into Nisroch in Hebrew transcription. 

94 Sixteenth Week — Fourth Day, 

for the sake of euphony, or by the mistake of some ancient 
copyist. But if we drop the N, we may, indeed, preserve the 
identity of the idol, but we lose the reasonable etymology which 
connects it with the eagle. Besides, in these languages we find 
this letter N, being the weakest of the liquids, often dropped at 
the beginning of words, and often exchanged for other liquids, 
but we do not in this situation find it added where it did not 
exist. It is, therefore, more likely that the N was dropped 
by the Assyrians themselves, than that it was added by the 
Hebrews. It also seems to us a delusion to consider that the 
native form of a name must necessarily be the most correct. 
A name remains embalmed, unaltered, in a foreign tongue after 
it has once been adopted into it, while that name undergoes 
changes in the language to which it is native ; and it is quite 
possible that the Assyrian inscriptions yet undecyphered may 
offer us the name in the form of Nisroch. Besides, we must 
not be too exacting with regard to uniformity in the ortho- 
graphy of proper names. We see the spelling of such names 
among ourselves continually changing with the lapse of time ; 
and in no very remote age we might find the same name given 
very differently by the contemporaries of the man who bore it, 
and even by himself at different times. Thus, there were six 
different ways of spelling the name of Shakspere by the men of 
his own age, and three of them sanctioned by his own signa- 
ture, which is different in every specimen that exists. Why 
should we exact uniformity from the ancients in a matter in 
which so much latitude is allowed to the modems ?^ Consis- 
tently, however, with his view, that Assarac is the only proper 
form of the name, and Nisroch a corruption. Colonel Rawlinson 
abandons the connection of the name with the eagle, and does 
not maintain that the eagle-headed figure is the representative 
of this idol. If Nisroch, identified with Assarac, be represented 

^ The writer may be allowed to refer to his own name, as affording an 
example of this lack of miiformity. He has seen it written in all these 
forms, by persons (some of different nations) who have taken it by the ear, 
or from cursive signatures, — Kitto, Kittoe, Kito, Kitts, Kitty, Quito, Cato, 
Cator, Cottle, Ghetto, etc 

The Persians. 95 

at all in the Assyrian sculptures, he is more inclined to regard 
him as represented at the head of the Assyrian pantheon, in 
that peculiar device of a winged figure in a circle, which, as he 
states, was also used by the Persians to denote Ormuzd, the 
chief god of their system. The identity of this figure with that 
of the Persians is beyond question ; but that it was used by 

either them or the Assyrians to denote their chief god, we 
altogether and most strongly doubt. Indeed, we have shown 
that the reasons which have driven him from the eagle-headed 
idol to this resource, have not the weight he ascribes to them. 


In this chapter begins a series of most interesting and remark- 
able prophecies respecting the Persians, and Cyrus, their great 
king. To these we mean to give special attention, not only on 
account of their intrinsic importance, and their peculiar adap- 
tation to our mode of illustration, but because their prominent 
reference to an eminent character in history imparts to them a 
sort of biographical interest, well suited to engage the attention 
of our readers. 

The fact that the great Cyrus, his name, his history, his 
exploits, and his character, were set forth by the prophet long 
before he was bom, has often engaged admiring observation 
and comment. But it has been less noticed that the very 
narion to which, under him, was given the 1 

96 Sixteenth Week — Fifth Day. 

avenge the Lord's controversy with Babylon, and to inherit for 
its reward the spoil of many realms, had scarcely an existence 
and certainly no prominent existence as a nation, at the time 
the prophecy was delivered. To show this, and at the same 
time to furnish a suitable introduction to our further statements, 
it is desirable to give an evening to the consideration of the 
origin of this people, and of their condition at the time that 
Isaiah wrote, and also at the time when Cyrus appeared. 

From the best accounts to which we have now access, it 
would appear that the Persians belonged originally to that 
widely-dispersed people who occupied the countries between 
the Tigris and the Indus in one direction, and between the 
Okus and the shores of the Indian Ocean in the other. 
Their aspect, as represented in the fine old sculptures at 
^■,„^ Persepolis, distinguishes them &om 

y I ' ' their Mongol neighbours in the north, 

A ^ta and their complexion, as shown at this 

-„ rtJ \ dayintheirdescendantSjfromtheHin- 

doos to the south-east, in a manner 
too decided to allow any idea of their 
consanguitdty to either. At the same 
time, their language proves them to 
have been equally independent of the 
Semitic or Syro-Arabian tribes on the 
west ; for the langu^es spoken in the 
regions west of the Tigris were alto- 
gether different in character and construction from those used 
to the east of that river. 

It thus appears that the various races that necessarily had 
dominion in those parts, all belonged to the same original stock. 
The most ancient of these ruling nations were the Medes, Bac- 
trians, and Persians. That the Medes were not of a distinct 
stock from the Persians, is evinced not only by their history, 
but by the similarity of their language. 

The ancient traditions of the race refer their origin to a 
region called Erime-Veedjo, which we can discover to have 
been the mountdnous tracts on the borders of Bucharia, as far 

The Persians. 9 7 

as the confines of Hindostan, and northward to the neighbour- 
hood of the Altai mountains. Hence, by successive migrations, 
they made their way, until they eventually established them- 
selves permanently within the precincts of that territory, which 
has preserved to the present day the name of Iran — ^the nation 
carrying with them in their migrations the name of Eriene, 
which is obviously the same as Iran. 

When this people quitted their original abodes, it appears 
that they were, like the Israelites of old, a nation of herdsmen 
and shepherds, acquainted with no other species of property 
than their camels, horses, oxen, and sheep. A change of 
residence, however, was necessarily, as also in the case of the 
Hebrews, attended with a change of habits. The earliest of 
their kings or chiefs, named Jemsheed, is celebrated in their 
legends as the first who introduced into the land of Iran a 
knowledge of agriculture and cattle-breeding. He was also the 
legislator of the race, and instructed them in the policies of 
civil life, having been, as they believed, appointed to that 
office by Ormuzd, whom they worshipped as the source of all 
good ; and he therefore, in their view, bore nearly the same 
relation to themselves as Moses did to the Israelites. The 
country to which they gave the name of Iran, was, previously 
to their arrival,, unoccupied, save by wild animals. The nature 
of the country did not, however, admit of all the new settlers 
devoting themselves to the same pursuits. It was but a com- 
paratively small number who gave themselves to agriculture, 
and occupied settled habitations ; by far the greater part con- 
tinuing of necessity to follow their old occupations as shepherds 
and herdsmen. In this manner, rather by the variety of their 
pursuits than by any diversity in their origin, the nation was 
necessarily spHt into a number of distinct tribes, of which 
some, like the Medes, acquired wealth and power by agriculture 
and the improvement of commerce ; while others, shut up in 
steppes and mountains, continued true to their original habits, 
which their situation may be said to have prescribed. 

To this latter class belonged the Persians— the portion of the 
race to which our present attention is to be confined. Their 


98 Sixteenth Week — Fifth Day. 

original abode in Iran can be determined with certainty ; for 
the general voice of all antiquity proves them to have been a 
race of mountaineers, inhabiting the wild and hilly region which 
is still known by the name of Fars, or Farsistan ; whence 
Paras, which is the Hebrew name of the country ; and whence 
also the Persis of the Greeks and Romans, from which comes 
our Persia. The names * Persia ' and * Persians * are names 
applied by foreigners, and are, and probably were, wholly un- 
known to the natives as designations for their country and for 
themselves. With them Fars is but the name of a province of 
their empire; and they call their country Iran, and them- 
selves Iranees. 

We are, then, to regard the Persians as having been originally 
a nation of shepherds and herdsmen, inhabiting the rude country 
of Fars, or Persis properr— a country such as naturally fosters 
a hardy race of people, capable of supporting both cold and 
watching, and of enduring, when called upon, the severest toils 
of war. It appears, however, that although this region formed 
the central seat of the race, that race was by no means confined 
to it ; for the names borne by some of the tribes, into which 
the nation was divided, bear evidence that their occupaticm 
extended over the steppes of Carmania (Kerman) southward, 
and northward to the shores of the Caspian Sea. 

Agreeably to what has always obtained among the great 
nomade races, the Persians were divided into several hordes or 
tribes. Such, as we all know, was likewise the case among the 
Israelites, whose analogous division into tribes arose while they 
were under a similar condition of life. Among the Persians, 
the number of these tribes was ten ; and they were distinguished 
from each other by their diflferences of rank, no less than by 
their modes of life. Three of these were accounted noble, the 
Pasargadae, the Maraphians, and the Maspians ; and of these 
the first was the noblest of all, as it included the family of the 
Achaemenidae, to which the reigning d3aiasty belonged. Three 
of the other tribes were agricultural ; and the remaining four 
retained the nomadic habits of their ancestors, but they are 
occasionally mentioned as contributing hardy bands of cavalry 

The Persians. 99 

to the Persian armies. The extensive salt deserts which divide 
Persia from Media, as well as the plains of southern Persia, 
afforded inexhaustible pasture for the cattle of these tribes, when- 
ever they thought proper to descend from their mountains. This 
division of the nation into tribes, a large proportion of whom 
are tent-dwelling shepherds, still prevails in the same country. 

Such being the case, we must discard the idea that the 
Persian nation, even at the most brilliant period of its history, 
was universally and equally civilised. A part of the nation 
ruled the remainder ; and the ruling portion alone had attained 
a certain degree of civilisation by its acquaintance with the arts 
of peace and luxury. The other tribes continued in their 
original barbarism, and partook but littie, if at all, in the im- 
provement of the race. The Persian history, as it has come 
down to us, is therefore not so much the history of the whole 
nation as that of certain tribes, and possibly only of the most 
noble tribe — ^that of the Pasargadae. These composed the 
court, and it appears that, almost without exception, all that 
was distinguished among the Persians proceeded from them. 

From the above particulars, we shall also be led to conclude, 
that in a country so constituted, everything would depend upon 
descent amd upon tribal distinctions. As the tribes were distin- 
guished by a greater or lesser degree of nobleness, so there 
was- also a gradation in the different families of which each 
tribe was composed. As already intimated, the most noble 
family of the most noble race was that of the Achaemenidae, 
from which exclusively the kings of Persia were taken. 

The authentic history of the Persians commences, in both 
sacred and profane history, with Cyrus, whom the Scripture 
honours with many honours, such as are in no other instance 
bestowed upon a heathen prince. At the commencement of 
his career, the Persians were under tribute to the kindred 
nation of the Medes, whose king was the grandfather of Cyrus 
by the mother's side. But Cyrus not only delivered his nation 
from that yoke, but reduced all the known kiijgdoms of Asia 
under his sway. 

lOO Sixteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

The following note on the character of the Persians, from Mr. Raw- 
linson's excellent article on the Persians, in Smith's Dictionary of 
the Bible^ will be acceptable to the reader as a supplement to Dr. 
Kitto's remarks. 'The Persians were a people of lively and im- 
pressible minds, brave and impetuous in war, witty, passionate, for 
Orientals, truthful, not without some spirit of generosity, and of 
more intellectual capacity than the generality of Asiatics. Their 
faults were vanity, impulsiveness, a want of perseverance and 
solidity, and an almost slavish spirit of sycophancy and servility 
towards their lords. In the times anterior to Cyrus they were noted 
for the simplicity of their habits, which offered a strong contrast to 
the luxuriousness of the Medes ; but from the date of the Median 
overthrow, this simplicity began to decline ; and it was not very 
long before their manners became as soft and effeminate as those of 
any of the conquered peoples. They adopted the flowing Median 
robe, which was probably of silk, in lieu of the old national costume 
— a close-fitting tunic, and trousers of leather, — ^beginning at the same 
time the practice of wearing on their persons chains, bracelets, and 
collars of gold, with which precious metal they also adorned their 
horses. Polygamy was commonly practised among them; and, 
besides legitimate wives, a Persian was allowed any number of 
concubines. They were fond of the pleasures of the table, indulg- 
ing in a great variety of food, and spending a long time over their 
meals, at which they were accustomed to swallow large quantities 
of wine. In war they fought bravely, but without discipline, gene- 
rally gaining their victories by the vigour of their first attack; 
if they were strenuously resisted, they soon flagged ; and if they 
suffered a repulse, all order was at once lost, and the retreat 
speedily became a rout.' 


The divine appointment, leading, protection, and guidance 
were never more strongly manifested than in the case of Cyrus, 
whose career, to fulfil which he was raised up, was marked out 
for him before he was bom. The intention of making him thus 


Providence in the Birth of Cyrus. i o i 

the object of a most special providence is continually declared 
by the Lord himself through Isaiah, from chap. xli. 25, * I have 
raised up one from the north, and he shall come,* to chap. xlv. 
13, where He says of the unborn C3aiis, * I have raised him up 
in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways.* 

To contemplate the early life of such a man, therefore, 
becomes a matter of very peculiar interest ; and we may well 
rejoice in the possession of sufficient materials for this pur- 
pose, in going through which we are continually struck not 
only by the occurrence of many signal providences, but by 
the repeated and distinct acknowledgment, on his own part, 
and that of his heathen biographers, that a divine providence 
watched over his early days, and preserved him from the many 
dangers to which he was exposed. 

To bring out this important point, corroborative of the 
divine nomination so emphatically announced by Isaiah, as 
well as because the story is in itself highly interesting, we shall 
glance over his early history, chiefly as recorded in the pages 
of Herodotus. It is not unknown to us that th^ authority of 
this account has been considered questionable, nor is it for us 
to maintain its accuracy in all points. The time of the his- 
torian was, however, not so remote from that of Cyrus, as that 
the leading facts of the history, as learned by him in Persia, 
should have been forgotten or have become obscured ; and it 
is certain that our enlarged acquaintance with the usages of 
eastern courts, and with Oriental nations, has rather confirmed 
than weakened the authority of the narrative, by showing that 
it is at least truth-like, and hence the more probably true. 
That, also, it is not at variance with, but rather confirms and 
illustrates, the scriptural intimations, is a circumstance greatly 
in its favour. Besides, it has now ceased to be the fashion to 
impugn the authority of Herodotus, as all modem discovery 
and research, in history, antiquities, and local usages, have 
tended, in a remarkable degree, to restore the credit of the 
much-wronged ' father of history.' 

We shall therefore give the substance of this narrative in 
our own way, and then point out how the Scriptiure warrants 

I02 Sixteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

the conclusions which even the heathen were constrained to 
deduce from it 

Astyages, the reigning king of the Medes, was the son of 
Cyaxares, by whom the Assyrian empire had been subdued, and 
the Median power consoUdated. He had a daughter called 
Mandane, who had a dream which, as explained by the magi, 
the interpreters of dreams, filled her father with great alarm. 
She was then of marriageable age ; but Astyages, fearing the 
presage, instead of uniting her to a Mede of condition suited to 
her high rank, gave her in marriage to a Persian named Cam- 
byses, a man of quiet temper, and who, although of noble birth, 
was, as one of the tributary race, regarded by the king as 
inferior to the lowest of the Medes. All now seemed safe. 
But in the first year of the marriage, Astyages himself dreamed 
that a vine sprang from his daughter, which covered all Asia. 
Having again consulted the interpreters, he sent for his 
daughter from Persia, that the expected birth of her child 
might take place at home. When she arrived, the king her 
father kept her strictly guarded, having resolved that her off- 
spring should not live ; for the magian interpreters had declared 
the dream to portend, that the son of Mandane should displace 
him from the throne. To prevent this, no sooner was the 
infant bom than the king sent for Harpagus, a nobleman with 
whom he was intimate, and whom, of all the Medes, he deemed 
the most trustworthy, and who managed all his affairs. ' Har- 
pagus,' said he, ' I commit to you an affair in which, if you 
are remiss, or betray me by employing others, the consequences 
will inevitably fall upon yourself. Take, then, the infant son of 
Mandane, carry it home, and destroy and bury it in the way 
that seems best to you.' To hear was to obey, or at least to 
seem to do so. Harpagus loudly professed his devotedness, 
and took the child away with him. But in secret his heart 
revolted at the task imposed upon him, and the tears of deep 
compassion flowed fast before he reached his home. On his 
arrival there he made known to his wife what had passed 
between him and the king. * And what,' asked she, ' do you 
purpose to dol' ' Not,' he replied, ^to execute the conmiand 

Providence in the Birth of Cyrus, 103 

of Astyages. No ; were he to become more mad and un- 
reasonable than he is, I am not the man to yield to his will, or 
to make myself the instrument of such a crime. There are, 
indeed, many reasons why I should not destroy this babe, 
which is, in fact, allied to me: besides, Astyages is old, and has 
no son ; and if, after his death, the sovereign authority should 
descend to his daughter, whose son he now wishes me to 
destroy, what can I expect but to incur great danger ? Yet for 
my own safety,' he added, after a pause, * it is necessary that 
the boy should die ; but some of the king's own people, and not 
I or mine, shall perpetrate the murder.' He accordingly sent 
a messenger to bring to him one of the king's herdsmen, whom 
he knew to feed his flock in a mountainous district infested by 
wild beasts, and therefore fit for the object he had in view. 
This man's name was Mitradates, whose wife and fellow-servant 
was called by the Medes Spaco, but in the Greek tongue Cyno. 
This hei;dsman kept his flock at the foot of the mountain^ north 
of Ecbatana' — ^a part of Media abounding in lofty mountains 
covered with forests. The man arrived without delay, and 
Harpagus said to him, * Astyages commands you to take this 
infant, and to expose it in the most solitary part of the moun- 
tams, where most speedily it may be destroyed ; and he enjoins 
me to tell you, that if you fail to kill the babe, or if you suffer 
him to survive, you will subject yourself to the heaviest punish- 
ment' Having heard these commands and received the child, 
the herdsman set forth on his return, and soon reached his 
cottage. * It happened by a divine providence^ says the his- 
torian, ' that a son was bom to the man whilst absent in the 
city.' His wife and he were both at the same time anxious for 
each other's fate — ^he for the safe delivery, and she for her 
husband's return ; for it was then, as now, a serious matter in 
the East for a peasant or other poor person to be sent for by a 
great man. When, therefore, beyond her hopes, her husband 
returned so speedily and uninjured, she eagerly questioned him 
respecting the business on which he had been so urgently 
summoned by Harpagus. He answered, *' O wife, I have seen 

* Now called Elburz. * Now called Hamadan. 

I04 Sixteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

and heard in the city things that ought not to be seen or to take 
place among our masters. The house of Harpagus was filled 
with weeping, and I, when I entered, felt my heart sink within 
me j for I beheld a babe lying on the floor, sobbing and crying, 
and dressed in many-coloured clothes,^ embroidered with gold; 
and Harpagus, as soon as he saw me, commanded me instantly 
to take the infant, and, carrying him away, to expose him on 
some part of the mountains most infested with wild beasts, 
saying that Astyages laid these commands upon me, and adding 
many threats if I failed to fulfil them. I therefore took the 
child, and have brought him, supposing at first that he belonged 
to one of the servants, for I could not imagine whence he really 
came ; yet I was amazed at the gold and rich apparel, and 
in recollecting the grief apparent in the family of Harpagus. 
When, however, I was upon the road, accompanied by a ser- 
vant who left the city with me, and who delivered the infant 
into my arms, I learned the truth ; for he told me the child was 
the son of Mandane the daughter of Astyages, and of Cam- 
byses, and that Astyages had ordered him to be killed. This, 
then, is the whole affair.* 

Having said this, the herdsman uncovered the infant, and the 
woman, seeing so fine and lovely a babe, clasped her husband^s 
knees, and with tears implored that it might by no means be 
slain. But he declared that it could not be otherwise, for that 
persons would come from Harpagus to see the child's corpse, 
and if he neglected the unpleasant duty which had been 
imposed upon him, his own life would be forfeited. Seeing 
that she could not thus prevail, the woman resorted to another 
argument. * Since I cannot dissuade you from exposing the 
child, and "^s one must of necessity be laid out, do thus : I 
have this day brought forth a son, but not a living one ; expose 
this, therefore, and the son of the daughter of Astyages we 
will rear as one of our own : thus you will neither be caught 

* This, no doubt, indicated him as a child nobly, if not ro)ralIy, born. 

The reader will remember how the brethren of Joseph envied him the 

* coat of many colours,' with which his father's partiality distinguished 

Providence in the Early Life of Cyrus. 105 

wronging your masters, nor shall mischief be devised against 
us : the dead will obtain royal burial, and the living will not 
perish,' The humane herdsman eagerly caught at this expe- 
dient He gave to his wife the child that was to have died, 
and, taking his own dead son, he placed it in the basket in 
which he had brought the other, together with all its rich habili- 
ments. This he conveyed to a desolate part of the mountains, 
and left it there. Three days after, he repaired to the city, 
leaving one of his servants in charge of the body. Presenting 
himself to Harpagus, he declared that he was ready to exhibit the 
dead infant. Harpagus therefore despatched some of his most 
trusty attendants, and by them saw and interred the son of the 
herdsman. The woman thenceforth nursed him who was after- 
wards called Cyrus ; for that was not the name she gave him. 

Si^jentj^ Wk^—^%\s%x^ gag* 


Having yesterday considered the circumstances attending the 
birth and preservation of Cyrus, in the face of the interests 
engaged in his destruction, we may proceed to notice the 
incidents of his early life down to the commencement of his 
public career. In this portion of his history the indications 
of divine interposition and guidance grow upon us, and the 
recognitions and acknowledgments of this, on the part of the 
youthful hero himself and of the narrator, become frequent and 

When the lad had reached the age of ten years, an incident 
occurred which made him known. As he was playing in the 
village near which the herds were fed, with boys of his own age, 
they, in their sport, bethought themselves of electing a king ; 
and they fixed upon him who passed for the son of the herds- 
man. He forthwith appointed some to build his houses, others 
to be his body-guard, one to be * the king's eye,'* on another 

^As we should say, 'inspector-general.' This was an ancient Persian 
and highly Oriental mode of describing high offices. 

io6 Sixteenth Week — Seventh Day. 

he bestowed the honour of presenting embassies ; to every one 
assigning a part. One of these boys, being the son of Artem- 
bares, a noble Mede, yielded no obedience to the commands 
of Cyrus, who directed the others to seize him ; which they 
did, and he flogged him soundly. No sooner was the youth 
released than, RiU of resentment at this treatment, he hastened 
home, and related with tears to his father what he had endured 
from the son of the herdsman of Astyages. Artembares, in 
high wrath, presented himself with his son before Astyages, 
and complained of the indignity he had sustained, saying : ^ O 
king, thus by thy slave, the son of thy herdsman, have we been 
maltreated !' And as he spoke he displayed his son's shoulders. 
Hearing and seeing this, Astyages, fully purposing to give 
Artembares satisfaction, sent for the herdsman and his son. 
When they both appeared, Astyages, fixing his eyes upon 
C3n:us, said : ^ Hast thou, who art but the son of a slave, dared 
to use thus shamefully the son of a man who is first in my 
favour ?' to which he replied : ' O sire, I did indeed thus treat 
him, and with justice ; for the boys of the village, of whom he 
was one, in their play appointed me their king, thinking me 
the best fitted for the office. The others accordingly yielded 
obedience to my commands; but this one was disobedient, 
setting at nought my will, on which account he was punished. 
If now I am guilty in this matter, here I am before you.* 

The king, who had observed him attentively while he spoke, 
was struck not more by the words than by the noble air with 
which they were delivered ; and he began to trace certain 
resemblances in his countenance, his voice, and his manner, 
which awakened his suspicions ; and these were strengthened 
when he reflected that the boy's age corresponded to that 
which would be the age of his daughter's son, if he were still 
alive. He therefore became anxious to question the herdsman 
alone, and dismissed Artembares with the promise that neither 
he nor his son should have any reason to complain. Cyrus 
was then removed to an inner chamber, and the herdsman, on 
being questioned, declared that the lad was his own son, and 
that his mother was now living. But the king told him sternly 

Providence in the Early Life of Cyrus. 1 07 

that nothing was to be gained by prevaricatingy for that the 
troth should be extracted from him by the most painful tortures. 
He then beckoned the guard to seize the man, who being led 
away to the torture, declared the whole truth, relating all that 
had happened from the beginning, and concluded with entreat- 
ing pardon for himself. This was granted ; but the heart of the 
king was filled with wrath against Harpagus, who was summoned 
to his presence. This nobleman, having noticed the herdsman 
in the palace, did not disguise the truth, but related the circum- 
stances just as they had occurred, afRrming, however, that the 
child was dead, for that the body had been seen and buried by 
some of his trustiest servants. The king, concealing the anger 
he really felt at the evasion of his commands, repeated tiie 
account he had received from the herdsman ; and went on to 
say that the child was living, and all had turned out for the 
best, as he had since regretted the course he had taken towards 
his daughter's child. In testimony of his satisfaction he invited 
him to supper, and desired that he would meanwhile send his 
son to be with the young stranger. Harpagus hastened home 
with a relieved and happy heart, and presently sent his son to 
the palace. The cruel king forthwith caused the boy to be 
killed, and his flesh to be dressed in various forms of prepara- 
tion as food — ^all save the head, the hands, and the feet, which 
were placed separately in a dish. At supper vapous meats 
were presented to his guests, but Harpagus was supplied with 
the flesh of his own son. When he had eaten heartily of it, the 
king, with a cruel smile, asked him how he liked his fare ; and 
on his declaring that he had highly enjoyed his repast, Astyages 
directed the attendants to deliver to him the reserved dish; and 
we may easily guess how he was homfied to behold there the 
head, hands, and feet of his own child. But, by a mighty 
effort, he restrained his emotions ; and when Astyages asked 
him if he knew of what game he had eaten, he answered, ' Yes, 
he knew ; and was pleased with whatever the king had done.' 
He then withdrew, heart-stricken, to his own house, taking 
with him the remains of his son. 
This dreadful transaction is at least consistent with the 

1 08 Sixteenth Week — Sevent^L Day, 

character which the historian gives to Astyages, as evinced in 
the previous treatment of his own daughter's son. Concerning 
him he now again consulted the magi, who had prophesied, 
that if he lived he should reign. They were now disposed to 
consider his destinies satisfied by the mock royalty which his 
pla3rmates had conferred upon him, and that his grandfather 
need be under no further apprehension concerning him ; and 
they counselled that he should be sent back to his parents in 
Persia. He was accordingly sent home, and was most joyfully 
received by his parents, who had believed him dead, and 
whom the account of his early adventures deeply interested. 
They took advantage of the name of his foster mother, Cyno, 
which name was often heard from his lips, to give out that their 
son had been preserved by a particular providence, for that when 
he was exposed he had been suckled by a bitch (which Cyno 
signifies) ; and this report spread far and near, and appears to 
have been still current in the time of Herodotus. 

The lad grew, and seems to have excelled all his companions 
in strength and every manly grace. There were eyes that 
watched him with earnestness. Harpagus nourished the hope 
of making the young prince the instrument of that vengeance 
against Astyages, which bmned the more fiercely in his heart 
because he dared not give it the least vent. At length, when 
Cyrus had grown up, this person sent him by a trusty servant 
a secret letter sewed up in the belly of a hare, calling him to 
vengeance against one who had been virtually his murderer ; 
* for,' said the letter, * by his intention you had perished, 
although by the providence of the gods y and by me, you smrvive.' 
Harpagus further assured him, that msCny noble Medes had 
become disaffected to Astyages, and would declare for Cyrus 
if he incited the Persians to revolt, and invaded Media at 
their head. 

Yielding to these suggestions, Cyrus convoked an assembly 
of the Persian tribes, and desired that every man would bring 
his axe with him. When they had assembled, Cyrus com- 
manded them to take -their axes and clear in one day the 
country around for three miles of the briers with which it was 

Providence in the Early Life of Cyrus. 109 

covered. This they accomplished ; and they were then desired 
to present themselves the third day purified from the dust 
and stain of their past labour. Meanwhile Cyrus collected and 
slaughtered all his father's flocks — ^goats, sheep, and oxen, and 
caused them to be cooked to entertain the assembled thousands; 
nor were bread and rich wines wanting for the intended feast. 
On the morrow, when they appeared, he made them recline 
upon the grass and partake of the feast he had provided. 
When they had finished, Cyrus addressed them, and asked them 
whether the labours of yesterday or the enjoyments of to-day 
had been the most pleasant. They declared that there was the 
greatest possible difference between the two, for that on the first 
day they had endured every hardship, but on this they had 
possessed every good. Taking up the word, Cyrus opened to 
them his whole intention, saying: 'Persians, thus stand our 
affairs : if you are willing to follow me, these and a thousand 
other good things shall be yours, and servile labour shall be 
unknown to you ; but if you refiise to obey me, toils innume- 
rable, like those of yesterday, will be laid upon you. Now, 
therefore, follow me, and be free. For I bdieve myself to be 
divinely ordained to fill your hands with these benefits ; and you 
deem yourselves not at all inferior to the Medes, as not in 
other respects, so not in military virtues. This being the state 
of your affairs, revolt instantly from Astyages.' And they did 
so, according to this account, and eventually succeeded not 
only in casting off the Median yoke, but in establishing their 
sway over many lands. 

Such, in substance, is the account of Herodotus. The 
writers of the early part of the last, and the latter part of the 
preceding century, manifested a prevailing disposition to reject 
his account of the infancy of Cyrus, and to prefer that of 
Xenophon ; and this still operates, through the just influence 
of the writers to whom we refer, although the relative positions 
of the authorities in question have been considerably altered. 
The extensive researches which have since taken place into the 
history and antiquities of Egypt and the East, have confirmed, 
and in many cases established, the authority of Herodotus in 

no Sixteenth Week-^Seventk Day. 

many matters in which it was formerly most disputed ; while 
it is now universally recognised that the account which Xeno- 
phon gives of Cyrus in his CyropcRdia^ is, in the narration of 
his youth particularly, of no more historical authority than the 
Tdemactts of Fenelon, to which it is indeed in many respects 

Let us try to understand this matter a little ; for it is well 
worth our while to have some distinct ideas regarding it. It is 
now generally admitted that Herodotus related what he heard 
— ^that is, what was the general report among the educated 
classes at the time and in the countries of which he wrote. 
His intention and care to give the true account, are incidentally 
evinced in this case by his mention, only for rejection, of the 
story of the bitch-nurture which Cyrus received when exposed 
upon the mountains. This, he distinctly states, was the common 
rumour of his time ; but he corrects and explains it from the 
more authentic information to which he had access. Now, 
when Herodotus travelled among the Persians and discoursed 
with their learned men, the persons with whom he associated 
were those whose fathers had lived under Cyrus, and who 
must have been acquainted with his true history; and the 
accounts which the Greek traveller heard were those which 
these contemporaries of Cyrus had delivered to their sons. 
The value of this kind of testimony lessens in proportion to the 
number of links in its transmission, and Herodotus was in all 
respects nearer, in time, in place, and in circumstance, than Xeno- 
phon, as we could show at large if space allowed and occasion 
required. Indeed, the fact that Herodotus certainly intended 
to write true history, whereas Xenophon purposed to fiimish a 
philosophical romance, might be thought to determine this 
matter sufficiently, were it not that so strange a preference has 
nevertheless been given to Xenophon's materially different 
account of the youth of Cyrus. We are ready to admit, indeed 
we believe, that in the later and more public events of the 
career of the great Persian, the authority of Xenophon may be 
accepted, because the facts were more notorious, and because 
they were well known, even in his own country, as reported by 

Providence in the Early Life of Cyrus. 1 1 1 

the Persians of his age to many other Greeks who had been in 
the Persian service, and could not, therefore, be so easily turned 
from the direct truth to suit the purposes of his book ; but in 
regard to the youth of Cyrus, he had * ample room and verge 
enough' to trace what characters he pleased, — ^nothing of 
public importance, nothing that impresses itself upon a nation's 
histor)?, being involved in the details, beyond the simple fact 
that the child's existence had been strangely preserved. That 
much obscurity hung over the early life of Cyrus, as evinced 
by the conflicting accounts concerning it to which Herodotus 
refers as existing in his time, seems strongly to corroborate the 
recital which he has given, seeing that the circumstances which 
he relates account adequately for that obscurity. The same 
considerations may warrant us to conclude that the father of 
Cyrus was not a king, as Xenophon reports, but merely, as 
Herodotus tells us, a Persian of noble birth, and a member of 
the ro3ral tribe. If the father had been king of the Persians, 
and if Cyrus had, from infancy, been brought up in distinction 
and honour at his father's court, the facts must have been too 
well known to allow room for the existence of the story which 
Herodotus gives, or of the other to which he refers. 


It is interesting to observe, that in the prophecies of Isaiah 
there is a gradual preparation, as it were, for the distinct pro- 
duction of Cyrus by name. In the thirteenth chapter, entitled, 

* The Burden of Babylon,' he and his warriors are produced as 
the ministers of the Lord's judgment upon Babylon, without 
being named, and without Cyrus himself being characterized by 
any distinguishing epithet. But in the next prophecy, in the 
forty-first chapter, he is indicated as * the righteous man out of 
the east;'^ and in the final prophecy, in chaps, xliv. xlv. xlvi., 
the Lord not only names Cyrus, but calls him * my shepherd,'* 
*my anointed," and *the man that executeth my counsel,'* 
forming, taken together, a splendid series of characterizing 
epithets, such as never in Scripture are given to any but the 
most illustrious of the Hebrew race. 

Now, in producing these prophecies, for the purpose of de- 
veloping the information which they afiford respecting Cjrrus 
and the Persians, we shall find it necessary to connect together 
those passages which, in different chapters, or even in different 
prophets, bear upon the same portions of the general subject 
before us, which we shall successively endeavour to illustrate. 
This departure firom our usual plan is rendered necessary, by 
the dispersion of the texts which refer to Cyrus and his doings \ 
and which, although they might be separately considered in a 
commentary, must be brought into connection to furnish a 
coherent view of the subject, as a whole and in its separate parts. 

One of the designations of Cyrus which we have just adduced, 

* the man that executeth my counsel,' furnishes the key to the 
prophetic view of his character and position, a view which per- 

1 Isa. xli. 2. 2isa, xliv. 28. 3 jga. xlv. I. * Isa. xlvi. ii. 


Cyrus called by Name. 1 1 


vades all that is said of him, and promised to him. This forms 
the most striking and the most sustained of the instances in 
"which the Lord not only asserts his supremacy in the govern- 
ment of the world, but reveals to us the mode in which that 
government operates, and the form in which it is most usually 
conducted. The marked manner in which Cyrus and his 
Persians are represented as set apart to execute the purposes 
of the Lord, while they considered themselves pursuing their 
own objects, cannot fail to suggest many interesting reflections 
respecting the manner in which the Lwd acts in executing the 
high purposes of his will — often by agents who little think 
whom they are serving, and who are, it may be, as in this 
case, ignorant even of his name. 

But the forty-first chapter brings C3niis before us in his own 
proper person : 

* Who raised up the righteous man from the east, 
Called him to his foot, 
Gave the nations before him. 
And made him rule over kings ? 
He gave them as ihe dust to his sword. 
And as the driven stubble to his bow.' — ^Isa. xlL 2. 

An old interpretation assigns this prophecy to Abraham, on no 
other ground, apparently, than that he also came ^ from the 
east,' and was eminently a ' righteous man.' But this view is 
now generally seen to be untenable; for none of the other 
circumstances enumerated here and in the ensuing verses is 
applicable to Abraham ; whereas they all agree with Cyrus and 
his exploits. The greatest difficulty is, however, supposed to 
be found in the designation of C3niis, a heathen, as a ' righteous 
man.' But this title, which indicates one who acts with habitual 
rectitude, who would not consciously inflict wrong — a just man, 
is not in Scripture confined to Israelites ; and, what is more, it 
correctly describes the character of Cyrus, which, not less than 
his military exploits, caused his name to be long held in honour 
by his countr)rmen. The CyropcBdia of Xenophon is, in par- 
ticular, full of examples in point. They may be true or false; 
but if some of them be untrue, even these — ^like the Arabian 
VOL. vr. H 

114 Seventeenth Week — First Day. 

stories of the generosity of Hatim Tai — illustrate the impres- 
sions which were entertained of his character. From tiiese 
anecdotes it does not indeed appear that he was always right ; 
but it does appear that he intended to be right. There is an 
amusing story of his boyhood — that his tutor made him the 
judge in the case of two boys. One of them, a big boy, with 
a dress much too small for him, took away the robe of a little 
boy, which was much too large for him, and gave him his own 
instead. It seems that both the boys were fitted under this 
arrangement, however wrongously effected — ^and Cyrus decided 
that each boy should retain the robe that fitted him. For this 
decision his tutor chastised him, telling him that, as a judge, it 
was his business to have regard to the rights of property, and 
not to decide according to his own views of the fitness of things. 
Throughout his career we see him actuated by an anxious 
solicitude to do what he believed to be right and just, and to 
avoid wrong-doing. In fact, as Dr. Henderson remarks on this 
text : ' It is not a little remarkable, that of all the virtuous 
princes of antiquity, he alone was thought worthy of being 
exhibited as a model of just government. Not only was he 
exemplary in private life, but his victories and conquests had 
for their object the vindication of law and justice. He is even 
said to have been an object of the divine love. Isa. xlviii. 14. 
His destruction of the Babylonian empire, and liberation of the 
Jews, were special acts of righteousness ; and the abolition of 
idolatry, which in a great measure followed the success of the 
Persian arms, comes also under the same head.' 

Let us now proceed to the important passage which forms 
the conclusion of the forty-fourth, and the commencement of 
the forty-fifth chapters. 

* That saith of Cyras, He is my shepherd, 
And shall perform all my pleasure; 
Even sajring to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built ; 
And to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. 
Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, 
Whose right hand I have holden. 
To subdue nations before him ; 
And I will loose the loins of kings, 

Cyrus called by Name. 115 

To open before him the two-leaved gates; 

And the gates shall not be shut : 

I will go before thee, 

And make the crooked places straight : 

I will break in pieces the gates of brass, 

And cut in sunder the bars of iron : 

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness. 

And hidden riches of secret places, 

That thou mayest know that I, the Lord, 

Which call thee by name, am the God of Israel. 

For Jacob my servant's sake, 

And Israel mine elect, 

I have even called thee by name : 

I have sumamed thee, though thou hast not known me.' 

— Isa. xliv. 28, xlv. 1-4. 

This is a very surprising passage. Here is a man singled out 
by name, above a century before his birth, and his character 
and career distinctly marked out for him. The prophet him- 
self was apprised of the importance of this circumstance, as 
appears by the last of the verses we have cited, in which two 
objects of this extraordinary revelation are avowed : one, that 
a certain conviction might, by the evidence of this old prophecy, 
be wrought upon the mind of Cyrus himself; and tJie other, 
that a benefit might from the same source result to the chosen 

That so much stress is laid upon the fact of this remarkable 
man's name being given so long before he existed, directs atten- 
tion to that name. The Hebrew name is Koresh, which is 
clearly a Hebrew form of the same name which the Greeks, and 
we after them, represent by * Cyrus.' They tell us that this name 
was from a Persian word signifying the sun. Khur accordingly 
signifies the sun in Pehlevi, which was the ancient language of 
Persia, as it does also in modem Persian ; and the prediction 
becomes the more remarkable, when we consider that the 
prophecy of Isaiah was uttered while the Persians were a 
remote and obscure people, when they could scarcely have 
been known more than by name in Palestine, and when 
probably no one acquainted with their language could be found 
in all the country. Yet here the prophet gives to a future man 

ii6 Seventeenth Week— First Day, 

a name which exhibits the characteristics of a language un- 
known to the Jews, and which has in that language a marked 
and pointed significance, by reason of the homage paid by the 
Persians to the sun. It is the same — to illustrate the fact by 
a familiar comparison — as if a Persian of the reign of Nadir 
Shah had foretold that a hundred years thence a queen, named 
Victoria, should reign in England ; the name being to him and 
his people entirely foreign and strange, and having significance 
only among a people whose existence was scarcely known, and 
whose language not a person in the country imderstood. So 
that, as we wish to show, the signal inspiration of this prophecy 
is enhanced by the fact, that the prophet himself could not, 
under any reasonable probabilities, have ever known that such 
a name as that which he gave, to the coming man existed, that 
it was a significant name in any language, or that it was a name 
likely to be borne by any person. We are indeed informed by 
the Greek writers, that Cyrus was the name which this prince 
assumed when he became king, his original name having been 
Agradates — which might suggest to unbelievers that Cyrus took 
his new name to meet the prophecy. But not to dwell upon 
the utter improbability, that at so early a period he should have 
known a prophecy extant only among a people who were at 
that time nothing to him, and to whose prophecies, if he ever 
did know of them, he was not then likely to attach any import- 
ance, we may remark, that the change was probably much less 
than it seems — so slight, indeed, that the prophecy would have 
been just as applicable to the first name as to the second. 
There is reason to suppose that the name Agradates, which 
the Greeks give as the original name of Cyrus, was with them 
but a translation of the Pehlevi word or name Khur-dad, * gift 
of the sun,' which we know to have been used as a proper name 
among them, as it belonged to one of the angels of the Persian 
system of worship, and must have seemed a very proper name 
for a prince of the country. The well-known name Mithradates, 
or Mithradad, has the same meaning. Such names have always 
been common in the East; only, a Mohammedan of Persia, 
instead of Khurdad, would be named Allahdad, or ELhudadad, 

Cyrus called by Name. 117 

' gift of God/ answering to the Jewish name Nathanael, and 
oUiers of the same sort. But the Lord had not only called 
Cyrus by his name — He had * sumamed * him, as our transla- 
tion somewhat vaguely renders it. What is meant is not that 
he had given him any surname — for the name already mentioned 
was his own proper name — ^but that He had made honourable 
mention of him, and bestowed upon him titles of high honour, 
such as no heathen prince had ever received. What were 
these titles and honourable distinctions ? One of them, ' The 
righteous man,' has already engaged our attention. Two more 
occur in the passage last extracted : * My shepherd,' and ' Mine 

As to tlie first of these titles, that of ' shepherd,' we know 
that good kings and rulers are called shepherds in Scripture, 
as they are in the ancient classics. It is a fact, however, that 
David, C3niis, and Christ in his Messianic character, are the 
only sovereigns to whom the title is personally given. In other 
instances it is applied to the office of sovereign rather than to 
the person of any particular king. What is more rwnarkable 
is, that this very title was one to which Cyrus was partial, and 
the purport of which he fully appreciated. Xenophon describes 
him as saying, * The business of a good king and of a good 
shepherd are much alike. The shepherd ought, before all 
things, to provide for the welfare and safety of his flock, and to 
make use of these creatures consistently with their happiness; 
and a king ought, in the same manner, to make men and 
cities happy, and in the same manner to make use of them.' 

Cyrus, again, is called the Lord's * anointed,' in reference to 
the ancient custom of anointing kings with oil at their inaugura- 
tion. To be merely the * anointed,' was, therefore, no peculiar 
distinction to Cyrus ; but to be ' the Lord's anointed ' was a 
very high distinction ; and it is given to him obviously because 
the Lord had, in his providence, appointed him to be the prince 
under whose rule the Jews were to be restored, and the other 
purposes of his will accomplished 

1 1 8 Seventeenth Week — Second Day. 

S^jeb^nfiejenf^r Wx^—^ttttsxiH gag, 


We may have some notion of a man's character from the effect 
which certain intimations produce upon his mind. In what 
manner, then, did the intimations we have cited affect the mind 
of Cyrus, when he became acquainted with them ? Wp know 
that he did become acquainted with them ; for this appears on 
the face of his edict for the restoration of the Jews. Josephus 
relates, what is highly probable in itself, that when Cyrus 
became master of Babylon, the Jews there showed and ex- 
plained to him these prophecies relating to himself. We know, 
indeed, that there was one man in Babylon who had direct 
access to him, and who stood high in his esteem ; and it is 
morally certain that this man would not fail to bring such im- 
portant and convincing predictions under the notice of the 
king. This was Daniel, of whose connection with the Persians 
we shall hereafter have occasion to speak more fully. The 
effect was as here predicted ; that Cyrus saw and acknowledged 
the Hand by which his path had been marked out, and his 
steps guided ; and that he hastened to testify his convictions 
and his obedience, by executing with earnestness the remaining 
task to which he had been called — ^that of restoring the Jews to 
their own land. These are the memorable words of the edict 
which was promulgated in writing through all his empire: 
* Jehovah, the God of heaven, hath given me all the kingdoms 
of the earth ; and He hath charged me to build Him an house 
at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.' There is nothing indefinite 
or uncertain in this. If he had said simply * the God of heaven,' 
we might have been doubtful as to his meaning. It might have 
been understood of the god he had been used to worship. 
But here he gives Him the name by which the Lord was 
peculiarly known among the Hebrews — the great name of 
Jehovah ; and declares unreservedly his con^ction that He 
was * the God of heaven.* Surely this is a great declaration. 

yeJwvah acknowledged by Cyrus. 119 

It shows not only that C)nrus recognised the truth and inspira- 
tion of these prophecies, but that they wrought the conviction 
in his mind that the Jehovah, in whose name they were uttered, 
was, and could be, no other than * the God of heaven.* What 
is the precise amount of the conviction thus effected, which 
is of necessity involved in this acknowledgment, we shall en- 
deavour to show. It might for a moment be conceived, that, 
after the fashion of the heathen, when their attention was at 
any time seriously drawn to the claims of Jehovah, Cyrus sup- 
posed that he recognised in Him, under another name, the 
same supreme God to whom he had been used to render 
worship. But we shall see that this belief is incompatible with 
his declaration, when interpreted by the circumstances which 
surround it. 

That this ' Jehovah, the God of heaven,' and not his own 
Ormuzd, * had given him all the kingdoms of the earth,' he 
could only have known from Isaiah's prophecy, which declared 
the intention to give them to him, so long before he saw the 
light. Indeed, if he believed anything at all of the prophecy, 
he could not but believe this — ^that he owed all his glory and 
his greatness to his being the predestinated and prenominated 
agent of Jehovah ; and that it was He, and no other, who had 
made the nations * as dust to his sword, and as driven stubble 
to his bow.' 

It was also only through Isaiah's prophecy that Cyrus could 
have realized the conviction that * Jehovah, God of Israel,' had, 
as he says, ' charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, 
which is in Judah.' For nowhere else is this command given ; 
and nothing but the convincing evidence of this command 
being contained in an old prophecy, which in so many other 
circumstances unmistakeably indicates him and no other, could 
have invested this command, to his thoughtful and sagacious 
mind, with an authority and power not to be gainsaid. The 
intensity of his conviction is, however, manifested by the alacrity 
and fulness with which he discharged the high duty imposed 
upon him. This gives a marked intensity to the * me.* He 
hath charged me :' * Me,' and no other. It was not a duty 

I20 Seventeenth Week — Second Day. 

imperative on any king of Persia, but on him personally and 

If we want further proof of the d^ee of conviction respect- 
ing ^ Jehovahy the God of heaven/ which the examination of 
these prophecies wrought upon the mind of Cyrus, we need not 
go beyond the next verse of this ^unous decree, which renders 
still more precise his recognition of the God of whom he spoke : 
* Who is there among you of all his people ? his God be with 
him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and 
build the house of Jehovah, God of Israel (He is the God), 
which is in Jerusalem.' Ezra i. 3. Here the ^ Jehovah,' to 
whom imiversal and supreme dominion had been ascribed by 
the title of ' God of heaven,' is more precisely defined as the 
One who was generally known as the ' God of Israel,* whose 
peculiar people were the Jews, and whose * house ' was at 
Jerusalem. Let this be well understood. Among the ancient 
nations, every one of -which had its peculiar god, many knew 
that Jehovah was the God of Israel, and were not indisposed 
to regard Him as such. They would admit that He was as 
much the God of the Hebrews, as the gods they severally 
worshipped were their own; and they knew and admitted 
that He had often done marvellously for the deliverance of 
his people. There are many indications in the Scriptures of 
this persuasion regarding Jehovah among the nations who had 
opportunity of being acquainted with the Jews. What they 
disputed and resisted was, that He was any more than the God 
of the Hebrews. His claim to universal and supreme dominion 
— ^to be the Creator of heaven and earth, and not merely to be 
one among many gods, — ^not only to be the chief and highest of 
the gods, but to be the only and true God, besides whom there 
is none else ; this they disputed. This they indeed scouted as 
a most arrogant and unreasonable pretension made by the Jews 
on the behalf of the God whom they served. Their repudiation 
of this claim cannot be too distinctly borne in mind ; for it 
gives its colouring to the whole history of the Jews, and it 
influenced all their relations with the ancient heathen. 

But what the heathen in general so stoutly resisted, Cyrus 

Jehovah acknowledged by Cyrus. 121 

frankly and fiilly admits. He multiplies phrases in which to 
express the intensity of his conviction. It might have been 
enough that he should so distinctly announce that the God of 
Israel, known by the ineffable name of Jehovah, was the ' God 
of heaven.' There could be no misunderstanding this. But in 
the very next sentence, in which he finds it necessary to de- 
scribe the Lord as * the God of Israel,' he, as if alive to the 
common notions in this matter, and as if carefully to exclude 
the remotest chance of being understood by that description 
to limit his almightiness, throws in the emphatic clause, ' He 
IS THE €k)D,' which can have no other meaning than * He is 
the true and only God.' ^ 

What was the practical value of this conviction, what in- 
fluence it had upon his heart and life, we have no means of 
knowing. The probability is, that, after the first burst of feel- 
ing, he was content to retain it as a private conviction, without 
attempting to give it public effect, and without caring to take 
part in the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion. This 
he might think himself the more free to do, as the religion in 
which he had been brought up presented none of the revolting 
aspects of the common idolatries ; and there was no religion of 
the ancient world which, in its external, and in some of its 
internal aspects, approached so nearly to, or rather differed 
so little firom, that of the Hebrews. That his belief was not 
altogether barren, we have seen by the act of obedience which 
the decree expressed. The full extent of his intentions and his 
liberality is hardly visible in the decree, as given in the first 
chapter of Ezra ; but by the copy of it found in the record- 
chamber of Ecbatana, in the reign of Darius Hystaspis, we 
perceive that it was his wish that the temple to be built at 
Jerusalem, by his permission and assistance, should be more 
than twice as large as that of Solomon. Ezra vi. 3. 

The comparative simplicity of the faith which Cyrus held, 
and its entire freedom from gross idolatries — ^which the Per- 
sians hated as much as the Jews, and held themselves as 
strongly bound to destroy and overturn — were possibly, we may 

^ Qui est venis ille ac solus Deus. — Vatablus in Poll Synopsis. 

122 Seventeenth Week — Second Day. 

reverently venture to conjecture, among the causes which de- 
cided his nomination to these high destinies, and may account 
for his being signalized by epithets of honourable distinction, 
never in Scripture given to any idolater. 

We may indeed discover, in the prophecies which refer to 
him, a tender anxiety for him — a desire to correct the errors of 
his faith, and to advance his spiritual welfare. The passage we 
are about to quote, immediately follows, and is closely con- 
nected with, that which we last cited. And as he must have 
seen the prophecy as a whole, it is difficult not to suppose 
that his memorable declaration, *He is the God,' included an 
abandonment of the errors which the prophecy corrected, and 
an acknowledgment of the truths which it contained : 

* I am the Lord, and there is none else ; 
There is no God beside me : 
I girded thee, though thou hast not known me ; 
That they may know from the rising of the sun, 
And from the west, there is none beside me : 
I am the Lord, and there is none else. 
I form the light, and create darkness ; 
I make peace, and create evil. 
I the Lord do all these things. 
Drop down, ye heavens, from above, 
And let the skies pour down righteousness ; 
Let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation. 
And let righteousness spring up together ; 
I the Lord have created it. 
Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker ! 
Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth ! 
Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it. What makest thou ? 
Or thy work. He hath no hands ? 

Woe to him that saith unto his father. What begettest thou ? 
Or to the woman. What hast thou brought forth ? 
Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, 
Ask me of things to come concerning my sons ; 
And concerning the work of my hands command ye me. 
I have made the earth, and created man upon it : 
I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens. 
And all their host have I commanded. 
I have raised him up in righteousness. 
And I will direct all his ways : 

Zoroaster. 123 

He shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, 

Not for price, nor reward, 

Saith the Lord of hosts.' — Isa. xlv. 5-13. 

The principal tenets of that religion here ascribed to Cyrus, 
assumed that the more ancient religion before Zerdusht — 
known to the Greeks as Zoroaster — was the same in its prin- 
ciples with that which he established on a more regular basis. 
It has now been proved, however, by Heeren and others, from 
the internal evidence of the Zendavesta itself, that Zoroa'ster 
lived before the time of Cyrus — ^probably in the time of the 
Median empire, if not in the Assyrian; and there is strong 
reason to hope that the progress in deciphering the Assyrian 
and Persian inscriptions will, ere long, put this matter beyond 
all doubt. 


There are manifest allusions in Isaiah's prophecy to the leading 
principles of the Persian religion, as it existed in the time of the 
prophet, or at least in the time of Cyrus. It will, therefore, 
appear desirable to present the reader with some information 
respecting that religion, and concerning the man under whose 
influence and teaching it was reduced, from grosser forms of 
idolatry, into this better shape. 

There are not wanting native accounts of the religious systems 
that prevailed among the Persians prior to Zoroaster j and these 
accounts are entitled to credit, so far as we find them in agree- 
ment with ordinary probabilities, and as they are corroborated 
from other sources of information. 

According to these accounts, the primeval religion of the 
Persians consisted in a firm beUef in one supreme God, who 
made the world by his power, and governs it by his provi- 
dence; in a pious fear, love, and adoration of Him; in a 
reverence for parents and aged persons ; in a fraternal affection 

124 Seventeenth Week — Third Day. 

for all mankind ; and in a compassionate teademess towards 
the brute creation. This is manifestly a tolerably Mthfhl pic- 
ture of the old patriarchal religion, which all the races of man- 
kind inherited from Noah, and of which all later systems were 
but different corruptions. 

This purer behef, it is stated, eventually gave way to the 
adoration of the heavenly bodies, in the worship of which the 
religion called SabEeism consisted. To this succeeded the 
worship of fire, which, however, is scarcely another religion, 
but a modificarion of Sabseism, the fire being simply borrowed 
as a symbol or representation of the solar heat' After this 
arose another form of Sabseism, which consisted in the wwshqi 
of the planets by symbolical images ; and this appears to have 
been the form of idolatry which subsisted at the time Zoro- 

aster appeared, before, perhaps, it had wholly superseded the 
fire-worship, but when it bad become a wide-spread corruption 
existing together with it, and while the worship of fiie was still 
probably the formal religion of the country, the worship of or 
by images being an excrescence superinduced thereon, Zoro- 
aster rent away this excrescence ; and although his doctrine did 
not involve fire-wor^ip, he seems to have accepted it as a 

1 The cut is taken from a sculpture at Naksh-i-Rustam, supposed to be 
not later than the age of Cyrus, and represents a priest or king — most pro- 
bably the latter — worrfiipping towards the sun, having immediately bdTore 
him an altar, cm which the sacred fbe is buming. 

Zoroaster. 125 

suitable symbol of the divine essence — ^probably in the feeling 
common among the ancients speculators, that the people gene- 
rally needed some sensible object of worship, and that the fire, 
to which they were accustomed, was better than any other that 
could be devised. 

This Zoroaster was known in the East by the name of 
Zerdushty of whose existence prior to the epoch usually as- 
signed to him, we yesterday avowed our conviction. 

The traditions of the eastern Christians, of the Jews, and 
of the Moslems, regarding this remarkable man, might deserve 
attention, if only from the sort of doubt which has been felt 
as to the place which might be with justice assigned to one 
whose teachings were so superior to all that ancient heathenism 
knew, and yet contained so much that was wrong in principle, 
and that involved the awful imposition of a pretended reve- 
lation from heaven. We know that Zoroaster had no such 
revelation. The pretension to it, therefore, stamps the system 
with a fla^ant character, which averts the sort of respect that 
might be felt for it as a human system — ^bad indeed, but still 
the best that the mind of man had been able to devise — and 
puts Zoroaster on a level with Mohammed. The two make 
the same pretension : both exhibit books alleged to be obtained 
from heaven ; both teach much that is in itself good and true ; 
and both are guilty of the dreadful crime of making the Almighty 
responsible for their doctrines, by alleging that they received 
them from his hand. Of the two, however, Zoroaster was less 
culpable than Mohammed. Zoroaster did not know — at least 
we have no evidence that he knew — that there had been any 
previous revelation of God's will to man ; and he was far from 
intending to subvert any existing truth. But Mohammed knew 
that God had already revealed his will to man through Moses 
and through Christ ; and, while admitting the truth of these 
revelations, he applied himself deliberately, with full purpose 
of mind, to Subvert and stigmatize the most essential doctrines 
of the Christian faith — the divinity of our Lord, and the com- 
plete atonement for sin which his death upon the cross accom- 
plished. He taught his followers not only to reject these 

126 Seventeenth Week— -Third Day. 

doctrines, on which hang all the true hopes of man, but to 
regard them with hatred and abhorrence. This is a dreadful 
fact ; and a due consideration of it, and of the too effectual 
bar which has been thus set up against the reception of 
Christianity by the followers of the false prophet, is enough 
to prevent our sharing in that dim respect for Mohammed, and 
for his teaching, which some thoughtless Christians have allowed 
themselves to entertain. 

In saying that Zoroaster was unconscious of any existing 
revelation, we are not ignorant that the contrary has been 
urged in the traditions to which we have referred. But we 
attach no credit to them, only finding in them evidence that 
the authors of these reports were perplexed how to account for 
the good that was to be found in his system, otherwise than by 
supposing that he had availed himself of such of the Hebrew 
Scriptures as had then been written. Whatever probabilities 
might have been alleged in favour of these conjectures, under 
the account which places the time of Zoroaster so late as the 
reign of Darius Hystaspis, they disappear when he is placed, as 
we are constrained to place him, before the time of Cyrus, if 
not before the Hebrew captivity. 

It is then affirmed, especially by the Mohammedan writers, 
that either Zoroaster was a Jew, or he went very early into 
Judea, where he received his education under one of the 
prophets, with whom he lived as a servant, and that, emulous 
of his master's glory, he set up afterwards for a prophet on his 
own behalf. One account seems to apply to him the Scripture 
history of Gehazi ; for it states that, having deceived and cheated 
the Hebrew prophet whom he served, his master prayed to 
God to smite him with leprosy, which accordingly took place. 
Another account, grafled on this, says that Zoroaster had, by 
his great skill in astrology, discovered that another prophet like 
unto Moses was to arise, whom all the world should obey. 
This Old Testament prophecy, which we know refers to Christ, 
the Moslems apply to Mohammed ; and it forms a reason for 
the peculiar enmity with which they treat the memory of 
Zoroaster, that he, as they allege, attempted to anticipate the 

Zoroaster. 127 

mission of Mohammed, by setting up for himself a claim to be 
regarded as that prophet whose coming he had discovered. 
Under this notion he withdrew, the account states, into a cave ; 
and, revolving these things in his mind, a light suddenly ap- 
peared, which was no other than an illusion of the devil, who 
conversed with him out of the midst of the fire. Zoroaster no 
longer doubted that he had received his mission of prophecy, and 
forthwith commenced composing a book, containing a system of 
diabolical doctrine, which he called Zend. Having completed 
this performance, he left his retreat, and went about the world 
teaching his doctrines, and erecting temples for the sacred fire. 
All these are idle tales, founded upon some parts of the 
known history of Zoroaster. We know that astrology could 
not have taught him what he is alleged to have discovered by 
its means \ and even if it were for a moment admitted that he 
did possess some knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, he is 
exonerated from opposing (like Mohammed) the essential 
principles of the antecedent revelation; and the most that 
can be said is, that he adopted so much of it as he thought 
he could render acceptable to his countrymen. In point of 
fact, there is hardly anything new in the doctrinal part of his 
system; and those parts which seem to bear resemblance to 
Judaism are no more than resemblances to what the latter had 
in common with the primitive patriarchal religion. It seems, 
in fact, to have been the object of Zoroaster to exhibit a 
combination of all that he supposed to be good in the pre- 
vious systems, whether patriarchal, or Sabaean, or Magian, 
purged of the more grossly idolatrous innovations of recent 
times. This system he produced as having received it from 
the inspiration of Heaven. Whether in this he was an impostor 
or not, it is hard to say. There are marks of sincerity about 
his writings — so far as extant — affording some countenance 
to the belief, that he really conceived himself divinely inspired, 
and supposed that what he penned were divine oracles. That 
such a delusion was possible, we know, and the more possible 
in the case of a man who devoted many years of his life to 
solitary contemplation. That Zoroaster did withdraw from the 

128 Seventeenth Week — Fourth Day. 

haunts of men to a cave, is true; and that he there gave himself 
up to meditation and prayer, is acknowledged. But how long 
he remained in the cave, or how many books he wrote there, 
are points not very certain. We are told, indeed, that he 
brought twelve volumes to the king, each composed of a 
hundred skins of vellum ; but this is doubtless an exaggeration, 
although the fact, as stated, is less surprising than it may seem 
to the inexperienced. Even with our small written character, 
it often takes many pages of manuscript to make one page of 
print, and the ancient Persian character took up a good deal 
of room. It is to be remembered, also, that Zoroaster — ^who 
was certainly one of the most gifted men of his time — wrote 
down not only the principles of his religion, but also his own 
history, and the principles of most of the sciences then culti- 
vated; in this and some other respects reminding one of 
Emmanuel Swedenborg, between whom and Zoroaster there 
seems to liave been nearly as much resemblance as the differ- 
ence of the age and country rendered possible. Zoroaster met 
with wonderful success in estabhshing his religion, although 
not without considerable opposition from the upholders of the 
old idolatries, so that, in the course of a few years, it became 
paramount in Bactria, Media, and Persia. Balkh, in Bactria, 
was made the headquarters — the metropolitan city of the 
system ; and there Zoroaster fixed his residence, assuming him- 
self the office of Archimagus, or high priest, and spending his 
remaining days in teaching those who were to be the teachers 
of others. But his labours here were not of long duration, he 
having been slain, with all his priests, at Balkh, when that city 
was taken by storm, by a fierce enemy of the Persian power. 

S^ijjeni^jetitl^ Wx^—$^mt^ gag* 


After the account we have given of the career of Zoroaster, 
it is proper to consider the nature of the doctrines which he 

Ormuzd and Ahriman. 1 29 

taught. To do this satisfactorily, in a small space, is rendered 
difficult by the character of the documents in which the infor- 
mation comes down to us. But the following statement, so far 
as it goes, will, we apprehend, enable the reader to realize a 
correct and tolerably clear view of this religious system. 

The leading doctrines which Zoroaster taught were these : 

God, he strongly affirmed, was independent and self-exist- 
ing from all eternity. This was well. This truth, through the 
great light which the Lord has given to us, has become so 
elementary and so simple, that we can hardly estimate aright 
the importance of its distinct announcement in any ancient 
system. Although to us so obvious, this truth had faded from 
the common knowledge of man since the patriarchal age, and 
to bring it forward thus conspicuously was a great and crown- 
ing merit of the system of Zoroaster. 

It was in trying to account for the origin of good and evil 
that Zoroaster began to stumble. There were, he taught, two 
principles in the universe — good and evil. The one was termed 
Ormuzd, which denoted the presiding agent of all that was 
good ; and the other, Ahriman, the lord of evil. Each of these 
had the power of creation ; but that power was exercised with 
opposite designs ; and it was from their co-action that a mix- 
ture of good and evil pervaded the universe, and was found 
in every creature. The angels of Ormuzd, or the good prin- 
ciple, sought to preserve the elements, the seasons, and the 
human race, which the infernal agents of Ahriman desired to 
destroy. But the source of good, the great Ormuzd, was alone 
everlasting, and must, therefore, ultimately prevail. If Chris- 
tians, with all the light of Scripture irradiating the subject, still 
find in it much that is * hard to be understood,' it is not sur- 
prising that Zoroaster, who lacked this light, and was left to his 
own conjectures, along with the obscure intimations of tradi- 
tion, involved himself in a fatal error, dishonouring to God, 
which sets upon his system that stamp of infirmity and failure 
which all human inventions bear. 

The uncarefiil reader may be apt to think that this Ahriman, 
or lord of evil, is no other than the Satan of Scripture. So it 


1 30 Seventeenth Week— Fourth Day, 

may have been intended. Or rather, in Ahriman the reference 
may have sought to embody, so far as Zoroaster understood 
them, the old patriarchal traditions concerning the great enemy 
of man. But there is a vast and awful difference. Ahriman is 
not like Satan, a creature of God, ^len from the high estate 
which he held once, and exercising his fearM ministry only 
through the advantage which the sin of man has given to him, 
and that only for an appointed time, and imder the sufferance 
of One whose power could crush him in a moment. Ahriman, 
on the contrary, is a principle^ co-ordinate with the author 
of good, equally with him possessing the power of creation, 
though differently exercised; waging with him an equal and 
doubtful conflict, and destined to be ultimately vanquished 
through an advantage on the part of his opponent, of which the 
system appears to have deprived himself, for no other reason 
than that he might thereby be in the end overcome. Let us 
look at it again. What do we see here but essentially the old 
pervading vice of the system which may be regarded as next 
after the patriarchal — a barren recognition of the self-subsist- 
ence and eternity of God, but leaving Him in high and holy 
abstraction far apart, while the government of the world, its 
good and its evil, are left to great but inferior agents, who alone 
take an active part in the concerns of man ? This is that fatal 
doctrine which lay at the root of all the ancient corruptions of 
religion, and in which, indeed, some of the most dangerous 
errors of Popery have had their origin. Under this view, 
Ormuzd, as the author of good, is scarcely less objectionable 
than Ahriman, because he is thrust between man and the 
Almighty, and virtually stands before man in the place of God. 
It becomes, indeed, difficult to distinguish Ormuzd from the 
Almighty ; and we know that in the popular religion the latter 
was altogether lost sight of, and Ormuzd exhibited as the sole 
object of worship. We can conceive, that in the days when 
this worship prevailed, a man might have travelled through the 
country, and, from what he saw and heard, would have gone 
away with the impression that Ormuzd was the god of the 
Persians, without having heard of the High and Inaccessible 

Ormuzd and Ahriman. 131 

One, whom the theory of the religion made the head and 
centre of the system, but whom the practice of the wor- 
shippers altogether overlooked. There are even state inscrip- 
tionsi graven on stone, of the time of Darius Hystaspis, in 
which everything is constantly described as being done 'by 
the grace of Ormuzd,' and in which no other spiritual existence 
is recognised. Then, light was the type of the good, darkness 
of the evil spirit ; and God is represented as having said to 
Zoroaster, 'My light is encircled under all that shines,' — 
beautiful words, true of the God whom we serve, and not true 
of any other power in heaven or earth. In fact, in the passage 
of Isaiah now before us, the Lord does, in the most direct and 
pointed manner, reprove these errors, and take to himself all 
the functions of creation, and government, and supreme control, 
of which the system we have been considering deprives Him. 

With the information now given, the reader will not fail to 
perceive a strong and new emphasis in the words : 

' I, am the Lord, and there is none else, 
There is no God besides me : 
I girded thee, though thou hast not known me : 
That they may know from the rising of the sun, 
And from the west, that there is none besides me : 
I am the Lord, and there is none else.' — ^Isa. xlv. 5, 6. 

This passage must have satisfied Cyrus that the Being who 
made such a claim, and whom he had before known only as 
the God of the Hebrews, could be no other than that High 
and Lofty One, the bare existence of whom was admitted by 
his own religion ; and that He rejected the delegation of his 
active attributes in the government of the world, and the care 
of man, to Ormuzd or any one else — absolutely affirming that 
there was none 'else' who exercised for Him, or instead of 
Him, his divine attributes. In the memorable confession, 
* He is the God,' Cyrus seems to have recognised this truth, 
and acquainted us with the impression which these words made 
upon his mind. If this prophecy had left him in any doubt, 
the words that follow must have removed it, affirming as they 
do, in express terms, not only that He was the Great One 

132 Seventeenth Week — Fifth Day. 

above all, but that He exercised without another all the 
functions ascribed to Ormuzd, and held the supreme control 
over light and darkness, and good and evil. Nothing can be 
more explicit than these illustrious words : 

* I form the light, and create darkness ; 
I make peace, and create evil : 
I the Lord do all these things. 
I have made the earth, 
And created man upon it : 

I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, 
And all their host have I commanded/ — Isa. xlv. 7, 12. 

In connection with the last line, it may be remarked, that in 
Scripture *the host of heaven' denotes the heavenly bodies, 
which, as already explained, were the objects of worship under 
the Sabaean superstition, the essential elements of which, purged 
of the grosser developments, were included in the system of 
Zoroaster, ennobled as that system was by many great truths, 
drawn from the knowledge of ancient times. The extraor- 
dinary honour paid to the sun under this system, and to fire 
as its symbol, would alone impart to it the taint of deadly error. 
It has been seen that light was the type or symbol of Ormuzd, 
as darkness was of Ahriman. Hence the disciples of Zoroaster 
were directed, when they worshipped in a temple, to turn 
towards the sacred fire which was always kept burning there ; 
and, when in the open air, to the sun as the great source of 
light, and that by which God sheds his vivifying influence upon 
the earth. This ended, as all such symbolical worship is sure 
ultimately to do, in direct worship being paid to the sim and to 
the fire by the great body of the followers of this religion, im- 
mindful of the higher Object of reverence and worship whom 
the S)rmbols were supposed to represent 


It is not our object to develop the religious system of Zoro- 
aster further than our present plan renders necessary. We 

Religious Peculiarities. 133 

therefore abstain from any minute account of the ceremonies 
and institutions which were founded under his direction, or 
of the lesser tenets which his system embodied. Enough 
has been stated to show the particular object of the very 
pointed intimations, which the Scripture offers in the prophecies 
addressed to Cyrus. A little reflection will indeed show, that 
the Lord could not confer upon Cyrus the high honours which 
have been described, without, at the same time, protesting 
against the errors of his belief. It might else have been 
alleged that He had given a sort of sanction to these errors, 
by conferring such distinguishing notice upon a man by whom 
they were entertained, without a word of disapprobation or 
correction. This cannot now be said ; and we are called upon 
to admire the divine wisdom by which this danger has been 

One or two points in the religious system of Zoroaster, 
may detain us for a moment before we dismiss the subject 

I^ prescribing that worshippers should turn to the sun, and 
that fire might be worshipped, Zoroaster is held to have acted 
with the view of making his system acceptable to the people. 
These practices, however, were not introduced by him, but 
existed long before the earliest of the ages to which his 
existence has been referred. A notice of the worship of the 
sun and moon, which occurs in the early scriptural book of 
Job, has been already indicated. Another may be found in 
Ezekiel viii. 16, which shows that this kind of creature-worship 
was not only well known to the Jews, but that it was actually 
practised by them at the very temple, before the destruction of 
the city by Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel, then a captive by the 
river Chebar, sees in a vision the abominations which are at 
that time in the course of being perpetrated at Jerusalem. 
After seeing these — *the image of jealousy,* the 'chambers of 
imagery,' and the * women weeping for Tammuz ' at the holy 
gate — ^it is said to the prophet, ' Turn thee yet again, and thou 
shalt.see greater abominations than these.' He turned accord- 
ingly, ' and behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, 

1 34 Seventeenth Week — Fifth Day. 

between the porch and the altar, were about five-and-twenty 
men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their 
faces toward the east ; and they worshipped the sun toward the 
east' To understand this clearly, it should be observed that, 
as if purposely to prevent the abomination referred to, the 
entrance of the temple was on the east side of the building, 
so that, in looking towards it in worship, the worshippers 
necessarily turned their backs upon the sun at its rising in the 
east, at which time the luminary was most usually worshipped. 
But the law of sun-worship required the face to be turned 
towards the sun at its rising ; and the men seen by the prophet, 
being thus precluded from seeming to worship the Lord when 
they really paid their homage to the sun, and being obliged to 
make their choice, chose to turn their backs to the temple and 
their faces to the sun, ratlier than their backs to the sun and 
their faces to the temple. 

We have seen how Zoroaster stumbled in the attempt to 
account for the existence of evil in the world; and as his 
system has, even from divines of high name, received a degree 
(rf praise which may mislead many minds, it may be well to 
show that he stumbled still more egregiously in laying down 
the process by which the sinful soul should become meet for 
heaven. In this respect his system seems inferior even to that 
of far grosser forms of idolatry. In most of these — ^as well 
as under the law of Moses — the institution of sacrifice, pre- 
served from primitive tradition, proclaimed the insufficiency of 
man's best doings to establish his peace with God, avouched 
the conscious need of an expiatory victim, and shadowed forth, 
even to those who knew not its deeper meaning, the great 
atonement for sin which was, in the fulness of time, to be 
offered in the person of God's own beloved Son. Now, the 
religion of the Persians, as settled by Zoroaster, altogether dis- 
pensed with this important rite. Man was to work out his own 
salvation — to fight his battle against the evil within him and 
without him, as best he could, assisted by the grace of Onnuzd 
and the aid of his angels. Still it was felt that all this might 
leave the mind unsatisfied ; and the resource provided 

Religious Peculiarities. 135 

the priest. The priest knew all — ^had studied all; he knew 
best what was to be done ; and, as the commissioned servant 
of Ormuzd, had power with Heaven which others lacked. The 
unsatisfied soul might, therefore, resort to the priest j and if he 
were treated with becoming reverence and liberality, and if 
none of his just dues were withheld from him, there need be 
nothing more to fear; the priest would take it upon him to 
make all things right between the soul and God. Some young 
readers will say that we are describing Popery. It is even so. 
It is Popery ; but it was not the less Magianism. This thrust- 
ing in of the priest as a person having authority in the great 
concern between God and the soul of man, is the fatal plague- 
mark of every human invention in religion, in all countries and 
in every age. It was this insidious and interested principle 
that gave the Magian priesthood the great power and authority 
which they eventually acquired, and to which we may find, 
under the operation of the same principle, a very close parallel 
in the position occupied by the Papal priesthood. 

In general we may observe, that in the eastern systems 
which reject sacrifice — as in that of the Hindis — ^men seek 
to make their peace with Heaven by all kinds of bodily morti- 
fications — ^abstractions, fastings, tortures, deaths. It is to the 
credit of Zoroaster that he gave no sanction to sudi practices ; 
and although he left the work of salvation to the man himself 
and to his priest, he taught that it was to be effected by acts of 
mercy, of brotherly love, and of public good. His views in 
this matter are illustrated in the curious parable which is thus 
given : ' It is reported of Zerdusht, the author of our religion, 
that one day, retiring firom the presence of God, he beheld a 
man plunged in Gehenna, his right foot only being free and 
sticking out. Zerdusht therefore cried : " What is this that I 
behold ? and why lieth the man in this condition ?" He was 
answered : " The man whom thou seest in this plight was 
formerly the lord of thirty-three cities, over which he reigned 
for many years without doing one good deed. Nothing but 
oppression, injustice, pride, and violence entered his mind. 
He was the scourge of multitudes ; and without regarding their 

1 36 Seventeenth Week — Fifth Day. 

misery, he lived at ease in his palace. But one day, as he was 
hunting, he beheld a sheep caught by the foot in a thicket, and 
thereby held at such a distance from food that it must have 
perished. On seeing this a new and strange impulse of pity 
touched the king's mind. He alighted from his horse, re- 
leased the sheep from the thicket, and led it to the pasture. 
It is for this act of tenderness and compassion that his foot 
remains out of Gehenna, although for the multitude of his sins, 
all the rest of his body is plunged therein. Endeavour, there- 
fore, to do all the good thou canst without distrust or fear ; for 
God is benign and merciful, and will reward richly the smallest 
good thou doest." ' 

One of the good things of the system was the absolute and 
abhorrent rejection of every kind of image-worship. This fact 
had probably some important influence on the condition of the 
Jews while in subjection to the Persians j and may, among other 
circumstances, account for the very favourable treatment which 
the Hebrews received from the Persian monarchs. Among all 
the nations subject to their sway, they could find no other people 
who shared in their own hatred of idols, and who rejoiced in the 
distinction ; and a broad sympathy in so great and notorious a 
matter as this, was far more likely, than almost anything else, to 
draw towards the Hebrew people the favourable notice of their 
Persian masters. 

The prophecy of Isaiah respecting the future conquest of 
Babylon, so long before the event, exhibits the downfall of the 
Babylonian idols as a matter of triumph to the Jews to be 
accomplished by the conquerors. This as clearly indicated the 
Persians to be the destined conquerors, as if they had been 
directly named ; for, of all the Gentile nations, they alone could 
feel any impulse to destroy the idols of Babylon. The words 
of the prophet are : 

* Bel boweth down ; Nebo sloopeth ; 
Their idols are laid upon the beasts and the cattle ; 
What were borne by you are made into loads, 
A burden to the weary beast. 
They stoop, they bow down together ; 

Religious Peculiarities. 


They are not able to deliver the burden ; 

Yea themselves go into captivity.' ' — Isa. ihi. i, 2. 
The language here employed by the prophet is keenly sarcastic. 
The idolatrous images had formerly been carried about in grand 
procession ; but now they should be broken in pieces, and 
carried away as ordinary luggage — as so much old metal — upon 
beasts of burden, which sinking under the weight, would obtain 
no relief from the broken gods they carried. The fact that 
Cyrus thus disposed of the Chaldean idols is not recorded in 
history ; but from what the Persians were in the habit of doing 
in such cases, there is no question that the prophetic prediction 
was accompbshed. Something of the kind is indeed manifested 
in the fact, that he despoiled the temple of Bel of the precious 
utensils which Nebuchadnezzar had brought from Jerusalem, 
in order to restore them to the Jews. 

There is no representation of anything of this sort among the 
ancient Persian sculptures ; but in the Assyrian marbles we find 
a curiously proximate subject. It exhibits in a bas-relief, pro- 
bably of the later Assyrian period, a procession of warriors, 
carrying on their shoulders four images. Layard is doubtful 
whether these are the idols of a conquered people, borne in 
triumph by the conquerors, or whether the sculpture represents 
the commemoration of some religious ceremony. But he un- 
consciously adds the curiously illustrative remark : ' It may 
record an expedition against the revolted Babylonians, whose 
' Dr. HENnERSOM's translation. 

138 Seventeenth Week — Sixth Day. 

divinities, as described by Diodorus, can perhaps be identified 
with the figures in the bas-relief. The gods of the two cities, 
Nineveh and Babylon, were, there can be little doubt, nearly 
the same.' Under the view which makes them conquered idols, 
as we believe them to be, this sculpture is strongly illustrative 
of the present text ; under the other view it becomes no less 
illustrative of Isaiah xlvi. 6, 7 : 

* They lavish gold out of the bag, 
And weigh silver in the balance ; 
They hire a goldsmith, and he maketh it a god ; 
They fell down, yea, they worship ; 
They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him ; 
And set him in his place, and he standeth.' 

S-ekirb^tttj^ Wx^—^v^ gag* 


Having now gone through those prophecies of Isaiah which 
derive illustration from the early history and character of Cyrus, 
and from the religious views of himself and his people, we may 
proceed to those which treat of his warlike undertakings and 
his victories. But it seems previously necessary to point out 
how C3TUS became possessed of that imperial power which had 
before been possessed by the Medes ; or rather, how the Median 
empire became merged in that of the Persians, who had been 
till then an inferior and a subject people. Taken in the order 
of the Scripture books, this would most naturally connect itself 
with those passages of Daniel which intimate the actual transfer 
of power, but we rather introduce it here for the sake of giving 
some measure of historical connection to the subject which 
now engages our attention. 

As the origination of the Persian empire in the person of 
C5n:us is not a matter to which the prophets direct much atten- 
tion, and as great space cannot here be afforded to it, we must 
be content to indicate what appears to us the right view of a 

Historical Elucidations. 1 39 

matter involving some historical difficulties, without discussing 
the relative value of authorities, or entering more into the details 
of reasons and arguments than may be absolutely necessary to 
make the matter intelligible. It will be perceived that the 
following statement also involves an explanation of such of 
the difficulties of Babylonian history as are of any scriptural 
connection or interest. 

The real question is, whether the transfer of empire was 
effected by a civil war or by peaceful means. Herodotus 
declares that Cyrus incited the Persians to revolt against the 
rule of his mother's father, Astyages, king of Media, and 
having overcome him in battle, kept him prisoner in his palace 
till his death. Xenophon, however, sa5rs nothing of this war 
in his CyroptBdiay but describes Astyages as dying, and as being 
succeeded by his son Cyaxares, who made his nephew Cyrus 
commander-in-chief of the combined armies of Media and 
Persia, with which he achieved his first foreign victories in the 
name of his uncle, at whose death he, as his heir, took the 
sovereignty which, in all actual power, he had in fact enjoyed 
before. Yet in his more strictly historical work, the Anabasis^ 
this writer admits the civil war, which it did not suit the pur- 
poses of his romance to introduce. This great discrepancy 
being thus obviated, it becomes easy to reconcile the remaining 
difference, by supposing that Herodotus being aware of the 
reality of the power to which Cyrus then attained, did not think 
it necessary to embarrass his short statement with the account 
of the nominal authority of Cyaxares. Policy, no less than the 
respect due to his mother's brother, from whom he had received 
no injury, induced Cyrus to leave this semblance of power in 
the hands of one whose heir he was sure of becoming. That 
he really did so, as Xenophon states — that as king of the Per- 
sians, whose true independence he had established by his vic- 
tories over Astyages, he in foreign operations acted in alliance 
with, or in apparent submission to, his uncle — ^is clear from 
Scripture. The prophet Daniel, in interpreting the hand- 
writing on the wall to Belshazzar, amplifies the word Upharsin 
(which means division) into ' thy kingdom is divided and given 


140 Seventeenth Week — Sixth Day, 

to the Medes and Persians.' What followed? We are told 
that ' in that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans 
slain; and Darius the Mede took the kingdom, being about 
threescore and two years old.* There is nothing here of Cyrus 
or the Persians. But presently, when the courtiers had en- 
tangled the king in the matter of Daniel, they urge upon him 
the necessity of acting * according to the law of the Medes and 
Persians^ which altereth not.' This is, we may remark by the 
way, one of those beautiful undesigned coincidences which 
continually meet the careful reader of the sacred Books, and by 
which they supply to every candid mind internal evidence, the 
most undoubted, in favour of their own truth. From all that 
appears in the historical statement, the Medes only, and not 
the Persians, ' took the kingdom ' of Belshazzar ; but from the 
second intimation, which is of the most incidental nature, we 
learn that the kingdom had become subject to the law of the 
Medes and Persians^ referring to the kind of connection between 
them which secular history discloses ; and presently after we 
see that Darius dies, and is succeeded at Babylon, as elsewhere, 
by C)nrus the Persian. All this becomes clear as day when we 
take ' Darius the Mede,' who is unknown by that name in com- 
mon history, to be no other than that same Cyaxares, the uncle 
of C)niis, with whom he acted, and whose forces, with those of 
Persia, were under his command. This is, indeed, now gene- 
rally admitted; as Darius the Mede cannot be satisfactorily 
found in any other person than in Cyaxares the son of Astyages. 

The relations of the Medes and Persians to the transactions 
in which Babylon is concerned, are important to the right 
understanding of many passages in Scripture history and 
prophecy; and they happen to be the earliest circumstances 
that arose under the settlement which has been described. 

Originally Media and Babylonia had been equally subject to 
Assyria. The princes of these two. realms, however, revolted, 
and established their own independence upon the ruins of the 
Ass)rrian empire. There were then two contemporary king- 
doms, formed at first out of the dominions over which the 
Assyrians had ruled; but these were afterwards greatly ex- 

Historical Elucidations. 141 

tended — ^that of the Medes on the east of the Tigris, and that 
of the Babylonians on the west of the same river. Having a 
common origin, and the founders of the two kingdoms having 
been friends, the states assumed, from the first, amicable rela- 
tions to each other, and strengthened them by matrimonial 
alliances. This was the easier, as their interests did not clash. 
Their respective careers of conquest and acquisition starting 
from nearly the same centre, took opposite directions ; that of 
the Medes eastward towards Bactria and the Indus; that of the 
Babylonians westward towards the Mediterranean. Ultimately, 
however, as time passed, consolidating the power of each state 
and erasing old associations, the two nations began to eye each 
other's greatness with jealousy, and causes of dispute failed 
not to arise between them. It is difficult to make out the 
case very distinctly ; but as these diflferences had the eflfect of 
bringing Cyrus and his Persians across the Tigris, we must 
endeavour to furnish the best account which existing materials 
allow of this matter. 

It seems, then, that the experience and political sagacity of 
Nebuchadnezzar taught him the wisdom of maintaining peace 
with his Median neighbours, as the sole means of enabhng him 
to pursue his own plans undisturbed. His power extended to 
the Mediterranean, and it seems for a time to have embraced 
Egypt; for in Ezekiel xxix. 18-20, the spoil of Eg)rpt is promised 
to Nebuchadnezzar for his service against T3n:e. Some have 
disputed this conquest of Egypt by the Babylonians, because 
it is not mentioned in history. But much history, which may 
have recorded it, is lost ; and the Egyptian priests had sufficient 
reason to conceal the disgraceful fact from the Greek strangers, 
who, two centuries later, visited their country, and wrote the 
histories now extant. Besides, the promises of God, even when 
we do not know of their fulfilment, are more certain than history. 
* Hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good ?* If, there- 
fore, God said by Ezekiel that He would give the spoil of Egypt 
to Nebuchadnezzar, we know that He did so, even though 
history has not recorded the event. How long he exercised 
dominion there, is not certain. But the degree in which his 

142 Seventeenth Week — Sixth Day. 

attention must have been occupied with so distant and so 
valuable a possession while he had it, and with regaining it 
when it was lost, if it was lost in his lifetime, may sufficiently 
account for his desire to keep on good terms with his neigh- 
bours east of the Tigris. 

There is a tradition, that during the years in which this great 
king lay under the judgment of God, and ' was driven from 
men, and had his dwelling with the beasts of the field ' (Daniel 
iv. 32), his son Evil-merodach, who acted as regent of the 
kingdom, contrived to embroil himself with the Medes, at 
which Nebuchadnezzar, on his recovery, was so exceedingly 
wroth, that he cast him into prison. It was in this prison, as 
Jewish traditions allege, that Evil-merodach became acquainted 
with Jehoiachin, erewhile king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar 
had kept many years in confinement. On his accession to the 
throne (Jer. lii. 3 1-34), Evil-merodach released the captive king 
from his long bondage, and gave him a high place among the 
princes who sat at his table and frequented his court. Nebu- 
chadnezzar not long surviving his restoration, Evil-merodach 
ascended from the prison to the throne, forthwith resumed his 
designs against the Medes, whose growing power he dreaded, 
and formed a powerful confederacy against them. This brought 
Cyrus across the Tigris, as commander of the combined armies 
of the Medes and Persians. The latter were in number thirty 
thousand, and formed the force on which he chiefly relied. 
Not waiting for them in Babylon, Evil-merodach, more couza- 
geously than wisely, went forth to meet them and give them 
battle, and was defeated and slain, after a reign of less than 
three years. He was succeeded by his son (or, according to 
some accounts, his sister's husband) Neriglissar, the common 
accounts of whom are difficult to analyse. Hales and other 
careful inquirers into this perplexed subject, regard him as the 
Belshazzar of Scripture; and we are disposed to adopt that 
conclusion, not because it is free from difficulties, but because, 
upon the whole, it agrees better with Scripture than the con- 
clusion advocated by some old interpreters, that Nabonadius 
(to be presently mentioned) was the same with Belshaazar. 

Historical Eltccidations. 143 

Neriglissar was killed by conspirators on the night of the 
impious feast ; and not, as is commonly stated, in consequence 
of the city being taken by the Persians. We are to refer that 
great transaction, the subject of magnificent prophecies, to a 
later time. Neriglissar or Belshazzar was then succeeded by 
his son, a boy named Laborosoarchod, whose short reign of 
nine months is passed over in Scripture (as it is in the canon 
of Ptolemy), and it is at once stated that ' Darius the Mede 
took the kingdom.' This, Hales contends, was by peaceable 
succession. By the death of Laborosoarchod, the reigning 
dynasty became extinct ; and Cyaxares or Darius, as the 
brother of the queen-mother, and the next of kin by her side 
to the crown, had, according to the notions of that age, some 
pretensions to the succession, which, of whatever value, there 
was no opposing claim that could withstand. The recent 
victories of the Medes and Persians gave them great power, 
and almost the rights of conquest; while the still recent 
indication of such a transfer by the prophet, in his interpreta- 
tion of the handwriting on the ' wall, was calculated to give 
additional weight to the claim of Darius, and would of itself 
have disarmed opposition had there been any strength to 
oppose. The terms in which the event is expressed, that he 
' took the kingdom,' implies this form of succession, and is 
never used with reference to any succession by an act of war. 
It is analogous to the New Testament expression respecting 
* A certain king who went into a far country to receive for him- 
self a kingdom.' Let us add, that a claim growing out of that 
of his sister was not a weak one, for she was a famous woman, 
who had taken an active part in public affairs, and had done 
great things for the improvement of Babylon and the welfare 
of its inhabitants. Her name was Nitocris ; and she appears 
to have been ' the queen ' who came in at the impious feast, in 
the midst of the consternation which the appearance of the 
handwriting on the wall occasioned, and directed the king's 
attention to the services and abilities of Daniel, who was in 
consequence summoned to give ' the interpretation of the 
thing.' It was probably the same princess who introduced the 

144 Seventeenth Week — Sixth Day, 

prophet to the notice of her brother when he ' took the king- 
dom,* and by the report of his high qualities and services, 
obtained for him an introduction to the distinguished favour 
which he enjoyed under that king. 

It is worthy of observation that the character which history 
gives of Cyaxares is entirely in accordance with that which the 
Scripture assigns to 'Darius the Mede.' Xenophon represents 
Cyaxares as weak and pliable, but of a cruel temper, easily 
managed for the most part, but ferocious in his anger. And 
this character would quite answer for Darius, who allowed his 
nobles to make laws for him, and then repented ; who suffered 
Daniel to be cast into the lions' den, and then spent a night in 
lamentation for him ; and at last, in entire conformity with 
Xenophon's description, condemned to death not only his 
guileful counsellors, but also their wives and children. 

This transaction could not fail greatly to increase the respect 
and esteem in which Daniel was held by ' Darius the Mede ;' 
and it is impossible that Cyrus himself could fail to become 
acquainted with the Hebrew statesman, and to estimate his 
high character and signal merits, before the death of his uncle 
left him unquestioned master of the united empire of the Medes 
and Persians. This enables us to apprehend that the influences 
had already begun to operate, which eventually, in the very 
^ first year of his reign,' drew from Cyrus the memorable decree 
in behalf of the Jews. 

The reader is aware that in permitting such of the Hebrew 
exiles as thought proper, to return to their own land, this great 
king gave the government of the province to Zerubbabel, their 
native prince, and heir to the throne of David. In respect of 
so weak and dependent a colony, there was little reason to 
apprehend that the prince would set up for himself or affect 
independence. But had his resources been greater, the same 
course would probably have been taken, as it was in accord- 
ance with the general policy of the Persians to appoint native 
princes to rule over the foreign provinces of the empire. An- 
other instance of this, which has some concern with our im- 
mediate subject, occurs in the case of Babylon, the government 

The Nations given to Cyrus. 145 

of which was given to a native Chaldean prince called Na- 
bonadius. This person, finding Cyrus much occupied in his 
western wars, ventured to assert his independence, and to take 
the title of king ; and he was suffered for a time to remain un- 
disturbed in his pretensions, as Cyrus had too much work on 
his hands to inflict at once the punishment destined for this 

As these foreign wars of Cyrus, and the ultimate overthrow 
of Nabonadius and capture of Babylon, are distinct subjects of 
Scripture prophecy, we shall next bestow upon them the atten- 
tion they seem to require. 

^t^txAm^ Mtefe— Sjetontj^ gag* 


We are now prepared to contemplate with advantage the pro- 
phecies of Isaiah which refer, with considerable minuteness, to 
the victorious career to which the great Cyrus was predestined. 
In the readings devoted to this great matter, we shall refer, first, 
to those prophecies which seem to us to bear upon some of this 
king's wars, the accounts of which are not usually resorted to 
for the illustration of Scripture, and then proceed to those 
which exhibit his agency in the downfall of Babylon. 

Let it be borne in mind, that these very remarkable predic- 
tions of victories to be achieved by a favoured hero, who had 
as yet no existence, were specially designed to afford Cyrus 
himself such signal evidence of his having been guided in all 
his steps by the Jehovah whom the Hebrews worshipped, that 
he should be constrained to acknowledge Him as the Lord of 
heaven and earth, and as the source of all his power ; and that, 
in the intensity of this conviction, he should be unable to resist 
the command laid upon him to restore the Jews to their own 
land, and promote the building of the temple in which the 
God, who had laden him with favours and prospered all his 
ways, might be duly worshipped. 


146 Seventeenth Week — Seventh Day. 

Before quoting these passages, and illustrating more particu- 
larly the details which they offer, it is necessary to state gene- 
rally that a great confederacy against the Medes and Persians 
had been formed by the states of Asia west of the Tigris. It 
appears to have originated with the Babylonians, who suc- 
ceeded in awakening the alarm of those states at the growing 
power of the Medo-Persian empire. It seems that great pro- 
gress had been made in organizing this confederacy before 
Darius the Mede succeeded to the throne of Babylon, and the 
accession of strength which was thereby acquired gave such in- 
creased alarm to the western kingdoms, as to render it necessary 
for Cyrus, after the government of Babylon had been settled in 
the hands of Nabonadius, to march to the north-west with all 
his hosts. The Babylonians so hated the Persians, and were 
so entirely convinced that they would be unable to stand before 
the vast league arrayed against them, that the vice-king, as we 
have seen, disclaimed his dependence upon the Persians, and 
declared his adhesion to the confederacy, which he assisted to 
the extent of his resources. 

There was at that time a great and formidable power in the 
west, which, to all human view, seemed fully equal to resist the 
Persians, and to overcome them in the strife of war. This was 
the Lydian empire, which was paramount in Asia-Minor; and 
whose king, Crcesus, was formidable not only by the extent of 
his dominion, and the tried valour of his troops, but by the 
resources which the possession of unbounded wealth placed 
at his command. In fact, Crcesus was the wealthiest king of 
that or any other age, so that 'as rich as Croesus' became 
among the ancients, and long remained, a proverb for one 
having large possessions. This mighty prince, at the head of 
a powerful confederacy, Cyrus met, and with greatly inferior 
forces overthrew ; and as the result of that victory, and of the 
subsequent operations which were rendered comparatively easy 
by it, added the whole of Asia-Minor to his dominions, thereby 
completing the greatest empire the world had ever seen, extend- 
ing in one direction from the Black Sea to the Nile, and in the 
other, from the Mediterranean to the Indus. 

. The Nations given to Cyrus. 147 

It seems to be to the overthrow of this great and formidable 
confederacy that the Scripture prophecies of victory to Cyrus 
primarily refer, although most of them are, as far as we know, 
applicable also to the other great exploits in which he was en- 
gaged, but with respect to which our information is less precise. 

In the forty-first chapter of Isaiah, the Almighty is sublimely 
introduced as demanding who it was that had raised up this 
great conqueror, this Cyrus, characterized as ' the righteous man 
from the East ;' who had * called him to his foot' — that is, had 
made him the instrument of the high purposes of his will. 
* Who,' the interrogation proceeds — 

* Gave the nations before him, 
And made him ruler over kings ? 
He gave them as the dust to his sword, 
And as driven stubble to his bow. 
He pursued them, and passed safely ; 
Even by the way that he had not gone with his feet. 
Who hath wrought and done it. 
Calling the genera^ons from the beginning ? 
I the Lord, the First, 
And with the last ; I am He.* 

This assertion of the instrumentality of Cyrus — of his being in 
a peculiar manner the child of the Lord's providence, is always 
thus emphatically produced, and gives the clue to his history. 

The fact that the Persians had not before taken part in the 
affairs of the west, and, in particular, that Cyrus had not, is 
clearly pointed out in the lines which describe his westward 
march as one not previously known to his feet. In fact, he 
had to march so far west as to the neighbourhood of Sardis, 
before he was enabled to meet the enemy in full force and give 
him battle. This Sardis was the capital of the Lydian empire ; 
and it seems to have been the policy of Croesus to draw the 
Persian far away firom his own resources, and into the district 
where his own means were most available, before he gave him 
the opportunity of coming to a decisive action. 

The extent of this victory, and its important consequences, 
are indicated by the largeness of the terms employed ; not one 
nation, but many nations, not one king, but many kings, are 

148 Seventeenth Week — Seventh Day. 

given 'as the dust to his sword, and as the driven stubble to 
his bow." Accordingly, the nations who had leagued against 
him on this occasion, and whom he subdued, were Lydians, 
Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, and all the nations ^ Asia- 
Minor, and, taken in a large sense, with reference to the final 
extension of his power, it embraced the Medes, Hyrcanians, 
Assyrians, Arabians, Cappadocians, Phr^ans, Lydians, Carians, 
Phoenidans, and Babylonians. ' He ruled also,' says Xenophon, 
'over the Bactrians, Indians, and Cilicians, as well as the 
Sacians, Faphlagonians, and Megadinians, and many ober 
nations, whose names even one cannot enumerate. He ruled 
the Greeks that were settled in Asia \ and, descending to the sea, 

the Cyprians and the Egyptians. These nations he ruled, though 
their languages differed from his own, and from each odier ; and 
yet was he enabled to extend the fear of himself over so great 

a part Of the world, as to astonish all, so that no one dared to 
attempt any^ng against him.' What can more strikingly illus- 
trate die sacred prophecy than this statement of an ancient 
pagan writer? and how interesting it is to read history by the 

' The cnt, irtiich forms an appropriate illastnttioii, is from the remotely 
ancient scnlptiires of Fersepolis, and represents one of the immediate suc- 
cessors of Cyrus seated on his throne, with the usual attendants and gnaids, 
vhile an ambassador appears before him. The throne is very remarkable 
from its resemblance to Ihe high-baclted chairs formerly in vogue in l>i i^ 
country, the taste for which teems to be now reviving. 

The Nations given to Cyrus. 149 

light which Scripture gives, and which, in this case, shows us 
WHO it was that * enabled' the Persian warrior thus to extend his 
power, thus to astonish the world, thus to make himself dreaded 
in many realms ! Indeed, this dread of him is still more dis- 
tinctly intimated in the verse following the one last quoted : 

' The isles saw it and feared ; 
The ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.' 

Then follows a graphic and highly derisive account of the 
devotional proceedings of the idolatrous nations, to win the 
protection of their gods against the formidable invader : 

* They helped every one his neighbour ; 
And every one said to his brother. Be of good courage. 
So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith. 
And he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, 
Sa3ring, It is ready for the soldering ; 
And he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.' 

There can be little doubt, that much of this activity in god- 
making was induced by the knowledge that Cyrus and his 
Persians were no idolaters — were, indeed, destroyers of images, 
so that the nations threatened by their arms might hope to 
enlist in their defence the utmost sympathy and protection of 
the gods they served. But the God who held the right hand 
of C)mis, and gave to his conquering sword all the force it 
possessed, was mightier than they. 

But while the nations were to be in terror at the advance of 
Cyrus, the people of Israel are comforted by the assurance that 
they have nothing to fear in this, but rather much ground for 
satisfaction : 

* But THOU, Israel my servant, 
Jacob whom I have chosen, 
The seed of Abraham my friend— 
Thou, whom I have taken from the ends of the earth. 
And called thf e from the chief men thereof, 
And said unto thee. Thou art my servant ; 
I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away : 
Fear thou not, for I am with thee : 
Be not dismayed, for I am thy God : 
I wiU strengthen thee ; yea, I will help thee ; 
Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.' 

150 Seventeenth Week — Seventh Day. 

Tlie distinctive points of this beautiful passage, ajid of the 
similar assurances of safety and comfort which extend to the 
end of the chapter, will be the more intelligently apprehended 
if due emphasis be laid upon the personal pronouns.^ 

' The cat here ofTered is from the same source as the one at p. 148. It 
represeaU the king walking, attended by two servants, one of whom bears 
an umbrelia (which has always been an ensign of royalty in Persia), while 
the other bears in his right hand a fly-flapper, and in his left what is usually 
supposed to be the king's handkeiehiet These illustrations derive their 
interest from the fact, that the dresses, ornaments, utensils, as well as the 
customs indicated, all pertain to the age and country to which Cyrus 
belonged, and seem to bring htm and his Persians visibly before us. 


By the mouth of Isaiah the Lord says : * Behold, the former 
things are come to pass, and new things do I declare : before 
they spring forth I tell you of them.* This corresponds with 
other intimations, in which the Lord describes himself as de- 
claring the end from the beginning, and as speaking of things 
which are not as though they were. But in the text we have 
selected for particular notice this day, the known fulfilment of 
vast prophecies is connected with the prediction of things to 
come. It is as much as to say : * Now that things formerly 
predicted have come to pass, your confidence is the more 
imperatively demanded, that the future things now foretold 
shall in like manner be fulfilled, however improbable they may 
appear, and although there is not yet visible any trace of the 
circumstances which may be expected to lead to them.' 

The evidence of truth from the fulfilment of former pro- 
phecies, delivered by the individual prophet himself, or by 
others similarly commissioned and speaking in the same name, 
seemed in a great measure necessary to establish in wavering 
minds confidence of the eventual fulfilment of prophecies 
relating to matters hidden in the distant future. A man who 
comes and tells us of things that are to happen when both the 
hearer and speaker will probably or certainly be no longer in 
the land of the living, must give us some evidence that he is 
entitled to our belief. There are two things to be established : 
first. That the prophecies of the Lord fail not of their fulfil- 
ment ; and second. That the prophecies now uttered are from 
the Lord, and that he who delivers them is his recognised and 
commissioned servant 

The proof that the word of the Lord cannot be void, is easily 
afforded by a reference to the past generally ; and there were 

152 Eighteenth Week — First Day. 

indeed few of the prophets who could not refer to predictions 
uttered by themselves, which had been speedily fulfilled, and 
which, therefore, at once established the truth of their utter- 
ances, and authenticated their own commission. Isaiah could 
refer to many such — the most signal being the prediction that 
the kingdom of the Ten Tribes should cease, before a child 
about to be bom should^ know to refuse the evil, and choose 
the good;' the one respecting the frustration of the Assyrian 
king's designs, which was almost immediately fulfilled; and 
that respecting the recovery of Hezekiah in three days, and the 
prolongation of his life for fifteen years. A man who could 
point to these instances might with confidence claim credence 
for things so remote and seemingly improbable, as the down- 
fall of empires and the desolation of kingdoms then in their 
palmiest state, and the rise to greatness of nations scarcely 
known to exist ; not to speak of tiiose higher prophecies which 
launch forth into wider space, and speak of Christ, his humilia- 
tion, his kingdom, and his glory. 

This sort of evidence was of weight to the contemporaries of 
the prophets ; and, so far as they believed, was calculated to 
afford them encouraging glimpses through the rent veil of time. 
But to us it is far more important than to them, and the scope 
it embraces is more extensive. In fact, prophecy seems to be 
of more value for encouragement and strengthening to the 
living, than it was to the dead, generations of men. The 
evidence of fulfilled prophecy, which was but scanty, in com- 
parison, to the people whose ears drank in the very voices of 
the prophets, is most abundant to us, who can, in these later 
times, look back upon a vast body of predictions already 
accomplished. This cannot be gainsaid. It cannot be ques- 
tioned, that certain prophecies were delivered long anterior to 
the events to which they manifestly referred ; and every man 
of common information has constantly before him, in this our 
day, real and tangible signs, positive evidence, that much of 
what the prophets foretold has been fulfilled. Much, but not 
all ; simply because all prophecy — ^which extends forward to 
that day when the ' mighty angel,' standing upon the sea and 

The Sure Word of Prophecy. 153 

upon the earth, shall lift up his hand to heaven, and swear by 
Him who liveth for ever and ever, that * there shall be time no 
longer' — ^has not yet been accomplished. 

To this paramount use of prophecy — in the future more than 
at the time of its delivery, and in the review of the past rather 
than in the aspect of the present — our Lord himself distinctly 
refers, when, after foreshowing to his disciples the kind of 
life, so different fix)m their calculations, that awaited them. He 
adds : * These things have I told you, that, when the time shall 
come, ye may remember that I told you ofthem^ John xvi. 4. 
When the circumstances He had foretold came to pass, the 
disciples would be encouraged and strengthened by the thought 
that these were not strange things, but parts of the plan which 
they were appointed, under the Divine Spirit, to carry out. 
They had been foreseen and foretold by Him ; and therefore 
all that successively came to pass as He had foretold, became 
a new proof that all He had spoken, all that they had believed, 
was indeed a truth, and no lie. 

This kind of proof is the peculiar and essential characteristic 
of the evidence from prophecy, and in no slight degree con- 
tributes to its singular efficacy in gaining on our minds, con- 
vincing our judgments, influencing our opinions, removing our 
doubts, and strengthening our faith ; and thus it becomes a 
most effectual instrument in advocating the cause, and in con- 
firming the truth and certainty, of the religion of the Bible. 
Its power in this respect has been often tested. It is, for 
instance, authentically recorded, that more than one unbeliev- 
ing soul has been overcome, convinced, converted, by com- 
paring the prophecy concerning the death and sufferings of 
Christ, contained in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, with its 
exact fiilfilment in Jesus of Nazareth. 

When we consider it well, we find the evidence from pro- 
phecy, and its convincing power, stronger, or at least more 
enduring, than the evidence from miracles. A miracle is 
designed to operate chiefly for the immediate and powerful 
conviction of those who are the contemporaries of him by 
whom it is wrought, and comes to after-ages in the fainter and 

154 Eighteenth Week — First Day. 

reflected light of testimony, that such things were done. Pro- 
phecy is, in the moment of utterance, less forcibly convincing 
as a proof of the truth, and a test of the divine will and inter- 
ference, unless in the instances of immediate fulfilment, in 
which case it partakes of the nature of a miracle, as when 
Moses predicted the fate of Korah and his rebellious company. 
* Like wine, prophecy improves by age, and acquires with it 
not only ripeness and maturity, but strength and excellence. 
Time, which wears out and destroys almost everything else, 
only contributes to stamp the value and to augment the in- 
fluence and benefits of prophecy ; it is, therefore, from this cir- 
cumstance alone, possessed of amazing powers ; it is a motion 
continually accelerated ; it is a weight perpetually descending, 
and therefore continually increasing its force and impulse as it 
descends. It is the cone, weak and narrow perhaps at top, 
but insensibly and incessantly enlarging itself, till it becomes a 
vast and solid mass, immense in weight and bulk, and irre- 
sistible in force and effect.' ^ 

This quality of prophecy imposes upon us a high and solemn 
responsibility with regard to it, far greater than that which lay 
upon those to whom the prophecies were in the first instance 
given. We see more, we know more ; the evidence is placed 
before us with accumulated force. If, therefore, they who saw 
but the commencing links of the mighty chain of evidences 
which prophecy offers, were not held guiltless for neglecting 
its intimations, of how much sorer punishment shall we be 
deemed worthy, who stand in the flood of light from its 
widening ray, if we neglect it, if we suffer ourselves to doubt 
in presence of it, if we fail to avail ourselves to the utmost 
of the ample means of strengthening and refreshing which, in 
these hastening ages, it off*ers ! 

In this point of view, how solemn become the words of the 
apostle : * We have also a more sure word of prophecy ; where- 
unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth 
in a dark place.' 

1 Whitney, Scheme and Compldion of Prophecy^ 1833. 

The Sure Word of Prophecy. 155 

Prophecy is unquestionably among the most convincing evidences 
of the divine authority of the Bible. The evidence of prophecy is 
in fact irresistible. It is, besides, so plain and palpable, that it 
cannot be mistaken or overlooked except wilfully. The spirit of 
prophecy must be the Spirit of God. Establish the reality of any 
prediction, and you thereby establish the fact that the words of that 
prediction are the words of God. I refer, of course, to such pre- 
dictions as are obviously beyond the province of logical deduction, 
or mere inferential foresight or sagacity. No eye but the eye of the 
Omniscient can look into futurity. Every thoughtful man must 
admit this. And, besides, no wisdom but the wisdom of God, and 
no power but the power of God, can so guide and govern nature 
and providence as that certain predicted events shall take place at 
a fixed time and in a prescribed manner. 

Now, this book of Isaiah is, from first to last, one grand series of 
prophecies. By divine foresight he is enabled to sketch in outline 
not merely the future history of the Jewish people, but the destinies 
of the great cities and nations around them — ^Assyria, Babylon, 
Moab, Edom, Damascus, Egypt, Tyre, and Persia. Sometimes in 
general terms, and in language highly metaphorical, sometimes 
with a minuteness of detail and a fulness of delineation, graphic 
and circumstantial as the narrative of an eye-witness, he forecasts 
the histories of empires and dynasties. It is, however, in his deli- 
neations of the grand scheme of divine grace, in his descriptions of 
the person, the work, the triumphs, and the blessings of the Messiah, 
that Isaiah has transcendently manifested his prophetic gifts, thus 
gaining for himself the title of the Evangelical Prophet The 
doom of Babylon is detailed with wonderful precision. * Babylon, 
the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees* excellency, shall 
be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never 
be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to gene- 
ration : neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there ; neither shall the 
shepherd make his fold there ; but wild beasts of the desert shall 
lie there ; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures,' etc. 
The prophecy of the sufferings and triumphs of Christ, contained in 
the fifty-third chapter, are too well known to require any comment ; 
and one or two of its incidental allusions I shall have another 
opportunity of pointing out 

156 Eighteenth Week — Second Day. 

(Bigj^jentj^ M^jefe— S^je^xmir gag* 


We may now return to the prophecies contained in the forty- 
fourth and forty-fifth chapters, which it is necessary to cite at 
some length : 

' Sing, O ye heavens, for the Lord hath done it : 
Shout, ye lower parts of the earth ; 
Break forth into singing, ye mountains, 

forest, and every tree therein I • 
For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, 

And glorified himself in Israel. 
Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, 
And He that formed thee from the womb, 

1 am the Lord, that maketh all things : 
That stretcheth forth the heavens alone ; 
That spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; 
That frustrateth the tokens of the Harsi 
And maketh diviners mad ; 

That tumeth wise men backward. 
And maketh their knowledge foolish ; 
That confirmeth the word of his servant, 
And performeth the counsel of his messengers ; 
That saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited 
And to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built. 
And I ■wall raise up the decayed places thereof: 
That saith to the deep, Be dry. 
And, I will dry up thy rivers : 
That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd. 
And shall perform all my pleasure ; 
Even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built ; 
And to the temple. Thy foundation shall be laid. 
Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, 
Whose right hand I have holden. 
To subdue nations before him ; 
And I will loose the loins of kings. 
To open before him the two-leaved gates ; 
And the gates shall not be shut : 
I will go before thee. 
And make the crooked places straight : 

Crossus. 157 

I will break in pieces the gates of brass, 

And cut in sunder the bars of iron. 

I will give thee the treasures of darkness. 

And hidden riches of secret places ; 

That thou mayest know that I, the Lord, 

Which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.' 

In this passage we may select for remark a few points which 
have not already engaged our attention, or which it may not 
be necessary to reserve for notice in connection with the taking 
of Babylon, to which some of the terms employed have been 
supposed to refer. 

With regard to the verse which refers pointedly to the futility 
of the lying oracles and divinations on which the enemies of 
Cyrus relied, it very forcibly brings to mind the extreme 
solicitude manifested by Croesus to ascertain the result of his 
enterprise against Cyrus before he entered upon it. He sent to 
consult the famous oracle at Delphi, and the response was, that 
if he crossed the river Halys, he would destroy a great empire. 
Nothing doubting that this empire was that of the Persians, he 
did cross the Halys, and by that act commenced the war which 
ended in his ruin. He afterwards sent to reproach the oracle 
for deceiving him; but the answer was, that an empire had 
been lost by his crossing the Halys — ^his own empire, and the 
oracle had been fulfilled, and that his interpretation alone had 
been wrong. Nothing could more clearly evince the true nature 
of these lying oracles, which were generally of this ambiguous 
character, and might be interpreted either way as circumstances 
turned out There can be no question that, in this case, had 
the result been different, the interpretation of Croesus would 
liave been accepted as the true one, and would have been 
cited in proof of the verity of the oracle. 

The words, *That tumeth wise men backward, and maketh 
their knowledge foolish,' may remind us that Croesus was a 
patron of philosophers and wise men, who found much wel- 
come at his court, and that the king himself made some pre- 
tension to wisdom, although it would appear from the result, 
that he profited very little by the opportunities which he en- 

158 Eighteenth Week — Second Day. 

joyed of acquiring what was in that age considered the highest 
wisdom. Among those who visited his court was the famous 
philosopher Solon, whom the king received with great atten- 
tion and respect. He was then at the height of his glory and 
greatness, and, like Nebuchadnezzar, had no mean opinion of 
the position he had attained. He showed the philosopher all 
his immense and curious treasures ; and, anxious to ascertain 
the impression which the display had made, he, with aflfected 
carelessness, asked him whom he conceived to be the most 
fortunate man he had ever known. Greatly to his mortification, 
Solon seemed not to think of him at all; but named, first, 
Tellus, who was slain in fighting victoriously for his country ; 
then Cleobis and Biton, who had died suddenly in the temple 
after having given a signal manifestation of their filial piety. 
Hearing this, the king to bring him to the point, asked bluntly, 
* What, then, do you think of me ?* The reply was full of deep 
import : * I pronounce no man happy before his death.' His 
meaning was, apparently, that the vicissitudes of life are so 
frequent and so great, that no man can be pronounced happy 
till we see the end — till he ceases to be subject to the contin- 
gencies of life, and has ended it with honour. . This was a high 
view, according to the notions which obtained among the 
heathen of that age ; but it would be a low one to those who 
know that they are bom of God, and whom the privileges of 
that new birth have brought to a state of prosperity and 
blessedness which no vicissitudes of life can alter, nor any 
circumstances of death disturb.^ 

Croesus was far from being pleased at this plain dealing of 
Solon, and he had not even the magnanimity to conceal his 
displeasure. He dismissed him with contempt, as one utterly 

1 See this conversation very fully reported in Herodotus (i. 30-34). It is 
usually received as authentic ; but we find that Sir W. Drummond, in his 
Originesy book vii. chap. 7, disbelieves its being founded on fact, there 
being chronological difficulties in the way of the alleged interview between 
Solon and Croesus. The difficulties are not clearly enough stated for investi- 
gation ; and as Sir William confesses, that * it is painful to have doubts 
where others believe,' we should not advise the rejection of this anecdote, 
on any evidence that has yet been produced against it. 

Crcesus. 159 

unacquainted with the world. But the weighty words sunk 
deep into his mind ; and when his beloved son Atys was soon 
after slain in chasing the wild boar, he had reason to feel their 
truth. Another occasion occurred, when, on his army being 
defeated, and his great city of Sardis taken, his vast treasures 
became the prey of the conqueror, and he himself was a 
prisoner doomed to death. In fact the remembrance of Solon's 
words struck him so forcibly, as he was led forth to his death, 
that he thrice repeated his name so loudly as to attract the 
attention of Cyrus. The conqueror then, through an interpreter, 
required to know the subject of his exclamation. He told him 
of Solon's visit, and of his words. The Persian was so much 
impressed by this striking instance of the mutabilities of life 
which the philosopher had in view, that his heart was softened. 
He forbore his vengeful intention, and admitted Croesus to some 
degree of favour, allowing him to retain his kingly title, and 
assigning him some territory for his support ; but he took care 
to keep him continually near his person, and forbore not to 
possess himself of all the treasures in which Croesus had 
placed his hope. 

The passage in the sacred text which has been quoted — 

* I will go before thee, 
And make the crooked places straight : 
I will break in pieces the gates of brass, 
And cut in sunder the bars of iron,' — 

describes vividly the manner in which all obstacles gave way 
before Cyrus in his difficult march, under the guidance of One 
who had given him a great work to do, and who upheld his 
hand till it was accomplished. It also indicates the marvellous 
facility with which the strongest cities were taken by the Persians, 
a people whose force consisted chiefly in cavalry, and who 
never, in all their history, excelled in the taking of fortified 
places. Yet there has been no conqueror whose triumphant 
course was less obstructed by delay in the taking of towns. In 
many cases a sort of mysterious terror, which, as prophesied, 
invested his name, and went before him, so disheartened the 
garrisons, that the gates of the towns to which he came were 

i6o Eighteenth Week — Third Day. 

opened without opposition on his approach. In other cases 
some unexpected stratagems put the strongest places, with very 
little delay, in his possession. Cyrus, indeed, beyond most 
generals of ancient times, was fertile in stratagems of war. No 
fewer than ten of his remarkable operations of this kind, all 
attended with important results, are cited by Polysenus in his 
Stratagemata. In one way and another the result was as we 
have stated; and, without doubt, the distinct prediction by 
Isaiah, of a matter so much beyond the range of common ex- 
perience, must have had great weight upon the mind of Cyrus, 
in convincing him not only that the prophecy was true, but 
that the Divine Author of the prophecy was He who had indeed 
made straight his path before him, and who had opened to him 
the two-leaved gates of the numerous strong cities which he 
had won. 

€y^m(!i!% Meek— Cj^br gag* 


The two greatest cities taken by Cyrus were Sardis and 
Babylon. Of their reduction we have more particular accounts 
than of any others. Both of them were taken by stratagem. 
The capture of Babylon is alone directly mentioned in Scripture, 
and will demand special notice. But although Sardis is not 
named, we have little doubt that some of the operations against 
it are alluded to in the general prediction of the triumphs of 
Cyrus ; for which reason, as well as because there are various 
remarkable particulars in this siege and the battle preceding it, 
which give a clear idea of the ancient Oriental military opera- 
tions alluded to by the prophets, we think it well to give one 
evening to this matter. It will be perceived that some of the 
military proceedings derive much illustration from the Assyrian 
sculptures, and the information which we have lately furnished 
in connection with these; the more valuable, as the ancient 
Persian sculptures afford no representations of battles or sieges. 

Siege of Sardis. ' 1 6 1 

After a long march, Cyrus, as already hinted, came in front 
of the confederated army at Thybarra in Lydia, not far from 
Sardis, the capital of that country. His aimy was 196,000 
strong, horse and foot ; besides which he had three hundred of 
those * iron chariots ' of war, so often mentioned in Scripture, 
and which were very formidable in those times. They were 
armed with projecting scythes, which cut the adverse soldiers 
to pieces in a most cruel manner wherever the chariots were 
driven. The only effectual way of dealing with them, was to 
render them useless for the time by slaying the horses by which 
they were drawn. But to prevent this, the horses of the Persian 
chariots, four abreast in each, were covered with trappings that 
were proof against all missile weapons. The Persian army had 
also a large number of other chariots, or rather wains of large 
size, each drawn by sixteen oxen ; on every one of which was 
a kind of tower, eighteen or twenty feet high, and in each 
towarwere lodged twenty archers. These towers, which must 
have been of wood, could not but give a most curious appear- 
ance to an advancing army. As they went with the army, 
they were designed for service in action, rather than in sieges, 
for which a different and more substantial kind of tower was 
required; and their use seems to have been to enable the 
marksmen, from their elevated station, to *pick off* the most 
distinguished of the enemy, as well as to furnish a centre of 
resistance around wliich the troops might form or rally, if 
momentarily broken or driven back. There was, moreover, 
in the Persian army a considerable number of camels, each 
mounted by two Arabian archers, the one looking towards the 
head and the other towards the tail of the animal. 

The army of Croesus was twice as numerous as that of Cyrus, 
consisting of no fewer than 420,000 men. Both armies were 
drawn up in an immense plain, which gave room for extending 
their wings to the right and left. The design of Croesus, upon 
which he placed his chief reliance, was to avail himself of his 
larger numbers by surrounding or hemming in the Persian 
army. The main strength of his army lay in the Egyptian 
auxiliaries, who alone numbered 120,000 men of tried valour ; 


1 62 * Eighteenth Week — Third Day. 

and these were wisely placed in the centre. When the two 
armies were in sight of each other, Croesus, perceiving how 
much his front exceeded that of the Persians, made his centre 
to halt and the wings to advance, with the design to enclose 
the enemy, and begin the attack on three sides at the same 
time. When the two wings were sufficiently extended, Croesus 
gave the signal for the main body to advance, on which it 
marched up to the front of the Persian host, the attack upon 
which was thus commenced on the front and both flanks at 
once. This great manoeuvre, which seems to have been pretty 
well executed, certainly presented a very threatening aspect to 
the Persians, considering the great disparity of numbers. But 
C)rrus was by no means alarmed. He signalled his troops to 
face about, and was thus enabled to take in flank the enemy's 
forces that were marching to fall upon his rear, and soon put 
them into great disorder. At the same moment a squadron of 
camels was made to march against the other wing of the enemy, 
which consisted almost wholly of cavalry. Their horses were, as 
the experience of Cyrus had taught him to reckon upon, so 
much alarmed at the advance of this large body of camels, that 
they became unmanageable, threw their riders, and trod them 
under foot, thus occasioning great confusion in that quarter ; 
and while they were in this disorder, a Persian officer of great 
experience, named Artagersas, at the head of a small body of 
horse, charged them so vigorously, that they could never after- 
wards rally ; and the chariots armed with scythes being at the 
same time driven furiously among them, the rout was on that 
side complete. Both wings of the enemy being thus broken 
and dispersed, Cyrus gave orders to Abradatas, his chief 
favourite, to fall upon the centre with the chariots. The first 
ranks consisted mostly of Lydians, and gave way before the 
violence of the charge ; but the Egyptians, being covered with 
their bucklers, and marching so close that the chariots had not 
room to penetrate their ranks, stood their ground.^ A great 

^ This account, from the Greek authorities, of the conduct of the Blgyp- 
tians at the battle of Thybarra, tallies exactly with some of the modes of 
Egyptian military action represented in the sculptures and paintings of 

Siege of Sardis. 163 

slaughter of the Persians ensued. Abradatas himself was 
killed, his chariot overturned, and most of his men cut in 
pieces. Upon this, the Egyptians boldly advanced, and com- 
pelled the Persian infantry to give way, driving them back 
quite to their engines. Here they were met by a shower of 
arrows and javeUns discharged from the towers ; and, at the 
same time, the Persian rear, advancing sword in hand, com- 
pelled the retreating archers and spearmen to return to the 
charge. By this time Cyrus, having put to rout both the horse 
and foot on the left of the Egjrptians, pushed on the centre, 
where he had the mortification of finding his Persians again 
giving ground. Judging that the only way to arrest the 
Egyptians from pressing their advantage was to attack them 
in the rear, he did so ; and the Persian cavalry at the same 
time coming up to his assistance, the fight was renewed with 
great slaughter on both sides, for the Egyptians, finding them- 
selves thus attacked in the rear, faced about, and defended 
themselves witli incredible bravery. Cyrus himself was in 
great danger; for his horse being killed under him, he fell 
into the midst of his enemies. But his appointed work, as the 
punisher of Babylon and the deliverer of the Jews, was not 
yet accomplished, and, although he knew it not, his life was 
safe until that work was done. He was saved by the Persians, 
who, alarmed at his danger, threw themselves headlong on 
those that surrounded their fallen king, and succeeded in pre- 
serving him from their hands. The battle then became more 
bloody than ever. But at length Cyrus, admiring the valour 
of the Egyptians, and concerned to see so many brave men 
perish, offered them honourable conditions, at the same time 
letting them know that they were entirely unsupported, all 
their allies having abandoned the field. On this they accepted 
the terms offered ; and having stipulated that they should not 
be employed against Croesus, in whose service they had been 

ancient Egypt. The Egyptian shield was of an oblong rectangular figure ; 
which shape seems to have been given them for the very purpose of en- 
abling the soldiers by their junction to form a roof overhead (testudo), or, 
as on this occasion, a wall in front. 

164 Eighteenth Week — Third Day. 

engaged, they surrendered to the conqueror, and from that 
time served him with great fidelity and zeal. 

This engagement lasted till night The allies dispersed firom 
the field of battle to their several countries ; and Croesus with 
his native Lydians withdrew into Sardis. Cyrus made no 
attempt to pursue the fiigitives; but the next day he marched 
with all his forces against the city. Croesus, who wanted not 
for valoiu:, thought himself still able to meet the Persians in 
battle ; and he therefore marched out to encounter them at the 
head of his native troops. As this force consisted mostly of 
cavalry, Cyrus confronted them with his camels ; and the horses, 
being unable to endure the sight and smell of so huge a body 
of these animals, were thrown into disorder. But the Lydians 
dismounting, fought on foot They kept their ground voy 
obstinately for some time ; but at last, finding themselves over- 
matched, were forced to make their retreat into Sardis, which 
was immediately invested by the Persians. To reduce a place 
so strong, so well provisioned, and so bravely garrisoned, 
threatened to be a work of time ; indeed, as Croesus trusted, 
of so much time, as would enable him to obtain assistance from 
Greece. Yet the place was very speedily taken, and that 
almost without the exchange of blows, by the operation of two 
stratagems of war, one of which seems very odd, and the other 
we should call neither humane nor moral, did we not remember 
that humanity and morality are things not much belonging to 
the trade of war in any age or country, and certainly not to 
such wars as the ancients waged. 

The first stratagem is thus related : * At the siege of Sardis, 
Cyrus constructed machines of wood that were as high as the 
walls, and placed upon them images dressed up like Persians, 
with beards on their faces, quivers on their shoulders, and 
bows in their hands. These were advanced during the night 
close to the walls, so that the figures rose above the fort 
Early in the morning Cyrus caused an attack to be made in 
a different quarter, to the defence of which the whole force 
of the town was immediately directed. The images in llie 
opposite quarter, rising above the wall, and seeming in the 

Siege of Sardis. 165 

distance to be actually upon it, being then accidentally dis- 
covered, a great cry arose, and there was a general panic, in 
the belief that the besiegers had got possession of the place. 
Throwing open the gates, every one made his escape in the 
best manner he could ; and Cyrus became master of Sardis at 

The other was this : After Cyrus had made himself master 
of Sardis, but while Croesus still held out in the fort in ex- 
pectation of assistance from Greece, he ordered the Sardian 
prisoners, the friends and relatives of the besieged, to be 
bound and displayed before them. A herald at the same 
time proclaimed, that if the fort were surrendered to Cyrus, 
they should receive their relatives safe and without ransom ; 
but if they persisted in holding it out against him, he would 
hang up every one of them before their eyes. To save their 
friends, therefore, they chose rather to give up the fort than 
await the issue of those precarious hopes, with which Croesus 
had flattered himself, of assistance from the states of Greece. 

In this connection, we must not overlook the Hues : 

* I will give thee the treasures of darkness, 
And hidden riches of secret places.' 

This is certainly a distinct allusion to the immense wealth 
which Cyrus was to derive from his conquests, and which was 
such as no other conqueror ever realized. Not only did he 
acquire the vast riches of Babylon, as distinctly promised by 
Jeremiah (1. 37) ; but the treasure which Croesus delivered up 
to him is reckoned to have been equal to the enormous sum 
of ^126,224,000 sterling. The highest calculation of the 
wealth which Nadir Shah derived from the spoils of India 
scarcely exceeds half this amount, while some accounts reduce 
it to a quarter. 

The second of these lines clearly alludes to the Oriental 
practice of hiding treasure in secret places, in the absence of 
such means of secure deposit or investment as we possess. 
This ancient custom we shall hereafter find an opportunity of 
fully elucidating. 

1 66 Eighteenth Week — Fourth Day. 


We now come to the prophecies which have regard to the 
capture of Babylon by the Persians under Cyrus. This great 
subject of prophecy is again and again taken up by Isaiah, 
and reappears at intervals from near the commencement to 
near the close of his book. It will therefore now be neces- 
sary, in order to bring this into its place, as the crowning act of 
the great king's career, to look at these passages collectively, 
without regard to the position they severally occupy in the 
book. It is well that our plan necessarily does not confine us 
to the order of the chapters, but allows us to make such an 
arrangement of our own as may seem most expedient, when, 
as in this case, it is desirable to preserve the thread which the 
history of an individual, as involved in these prophecies, pre- 
sents. The occasion is rare, and needs this special treatment 

We shall first give the account of this great transaction as it 
appears in the statements of ancient historians, and then we 
shall turn to the prophecies. 

The breaking up of the great confederacy against the Medo- 
Persian power, which Croesus had organized, at length left 
Cyrus free to march against Babylon, where the self-created 
king, Nabonadius, had, in the lapse of time, greatly strengthened 
his power. This personage no sooner heard of the advance of 
the Persians, than he marched forth against them with a large 
army ; but he was beaten with considerable loss, and was con- 
strained to retreat behind the walls of the town. Having suit- 
ably stationed his forces, Cyrus delayed not to take a deliberate 
survey of the defences of the city, around which he rode slowly, 
attended by his principal friends and allies. He at once saw 
that its reduction would be no easy enterprise. The walls 
were of prodigious height and thickness ; the number of men 
to defend them was very great ; and, in ordinary circumstances, 
the only mode of reducing the place would have been by 

The Burden of Babylon. 1 6 7 

cutting off its communications with the country, and so starv- 
ing it into a surrender. But in anticipation of this, Nabonadius 
had taken immense pains to store the town with provisions, 
and it was reckoned to contain enough to support the inhabi- 
tants for twenty years — the rather, as the vast area of the city 
comprised large and numerous gardens, in which no small 
quantities of vegetable produce might be raised. Cyrus, how- 
ever, conceived that his only course was to cut off all the com- 
munications with the country ; and, with a view to manifest 
every sign of a determination not to abandon the enterprise till 

the city had fallen into his hands, he caused a hne of circum- 
vallation to be drawn around it, with a large and deep ditch, 
and upon the banks thrown up in excavating it, he built towers 
at regular intervals, as watch-towers and stations for the troops 
on guard. It is doubtful whether he then knew that the city 
was too well provisioned for hira to hope to starve it into a 
surrender. One would think that he could scarcely be ignorant 
of this fact ; and although Xenophon declares that he did 
expect to reduce the place by famine, he assigns other reasons. 

1 68 Eighteenth Week — Fourth Day. 

which are sufficient to account for these laborious works, even 
on the supposition that he did know how well the city was 
provisicHied. These are, that he from the first contemplated 
the use to which these trenches were eventually made sub- 
servient ; and that, by the construction of this impassable 
barrier, he might relieve his troops from the fetigue of con- 
stantly guarding in full force so immense a circumference. 
Accordingly, no sooner were the works completed than the 
army was divided into twelve sections, each of which was, 
during the year, to guard the works in monthly rotation. It is 
interesting to recognise here the very same principle of rotatory 
divisional service which David had, ages before, introduced in 
the sacred services of the tabernacle, and which his son Solo- 
mon also introduced into the civil and military employments. 

The Babylonians professed to be mightily diverted by these 
proceedings, which they overwhelmed with derisive and taunting 
insults from the walls, believing themselves to be quite secure 
from military action by the strength and kikincss of their ram- 
parts, and beyond al danger of famine bj Ae immense stores 
which had beeik bid up. After nttarly two yeais had been 
consumed lok tiuese operaticms — which vas-, bowever, but a 
short rime when tdlte: ordinary dboracter of aondent sieges is 
considered — Cyms beard that a gpeat noctiimal i^tival of the 
Babylonians appvoodKed, iei which the inhabitandts were certain 
to spend the whole night in drunkenness and debauchery ; to 
which, it seems, they were much addicted, and an instance of 
which occurs in the Book of Daniel, in the account of Bel- 
shazzar*s feast. There is nothing among the scanty existing 
memorials of Babylon that might illustrate this ; but the As- 
syrian sculptures present us with a remarkable banqueting 
scene, in which the guests are seated four at each table, on 
high stools or couches, while the servants take wine from a 
large vase or tub, and carry it in small pails to the guests, who 
are seen to hold up their cups, as if drinking healths to each 
other. Music is not wanting ; the instrument being a kind of 
many-stringed lyre, with a square body and upright sides. 

The festival seemed to Cyrus to offer him a suitable occasion 

The Burden of Baby lot, 


of putting into execution the plan which he had probably pre- 
conceived. It must be understood that the river Euphrates 
flowed through the midst of Babylon, and its banks were lined 
with walls, pierced with many gates, which afforded access to 
the city. The river then, as at present, overflowed all its banks 
in the early spring — not so much from rain, as from the melting 
of the snows in the regions which it traverses in its upper 
course. The inundation is then in some seasons so redun- 
dant, as to prove very injurious to the buildings near the river. 
To avert such consequences, advantage had been taken of a 
spacious natural depression of the soil at some distance above 

Babylon, which had been artificially deepened in part, so as to 
form a vast reservoir, into which the waters of the river could 
on occasion be turned, by means of a broad canal, so as for a 
time almost to exhaust the stream. This great basin, which in 
its ordinary aspect was a morass, then became a large lake, not 
less, it is said, than fifly miles in circuit. Now, on this import- 
ant night, Cyrus sent up a strong detachment to the head of 
the canal leading to this lake, with orders, at a given time, to 
break down the great bank or dam that was between the lake 
and the canal, and so turn the whole current of the river into 
the lake. At the same time, he stationed one body of troops 
at the point where the river entered the city, and another 

1 70 Eighteenth Week — Fourth Day. 

where it came out, ordering them to march in by the exhausted 
channel, as soon as they should find it fordable. Towards the 
evening, he also opened the head of the trenches on both sides 
of the river above the city, that the water might discharge itself 
into them ; by which means, and the breaking down of the great 
dam, the waters in this part of the river were soon exhausted. 
The two bodies of troops, then, according to the orders they 
had received, marched into the bed of the river, the water 
reaching no higher than the knees. The gates towards the 
river, from which quarter no one suspected danger, had been 
left open, amid the riot and disorder of that night, so that the 
Persians were enabled to penetrate without opposition to the 
very heart of the city. The two parties met, according to agree- 
ment, at the palace, where they surprised the guards, and cut 
tliem in pieces. Those who were in the palace opening the 
gates to learn the cause of this confusion, so unsuited to the 
festive night, the Persians rushed in, took the palace, and slew 
the king, who came out to meet them sword in hand. 

Cyrus then sent bodies of horse through the city, to clear the 
streets, and to proclaim to the inhabitants that they were to 
keep within doors, on pain of death. The next day, those who 
held the forts, perceiving that the city was in fact taken, and 
that the king was dead, gave up the strongholds, of which 
Cyrus immediately took possession, and garrisoned them with 
his own troops. It was then proclaimed by the heralds through- 
out the city, that all who possessed arms were to bring them 
forth and deliver them up, and that the inhabitants of any 
house in which arms were afterwards found should be put to 
death. The order was obeyed. And thus the great city, so 
strongly fortified, so rich, so populous, and so abundantly 
provisioned, fell, almost without a blow, into the hands of the 

It will be seen that there were many special and singular 
incidents in this siege. It is one to the description of which 
no vague generalities could be applicable. It is therefore well 
calculated to strengthen any wavering faith in the glorious 
prophecies of the Old Testament — to point out how exactly 

Gold Disregarded. 171 

the most minute and remarkable incidents of this transaction 
were foretold, long before their occurrence, by more than one 
prophet of the Lord. The coincidences are so striking, that 
when Cyrus was informed of these prophecies, so soon after 
the event, and had the means of satisfying himself that they 
had been for a long time in existence, he could not, without 
wilful obduracy, resist the conviction which they were designed 
to produce, and which drew from him the memorable acknow- 
ledgment to which we have repeatedly referred. 


Having considered the historical details of the conquest of 
Babylon, we are now in an advantageous position for contem- 
plating the prophecies which refer to the subject ; and as we 
shall be obliged to cite, for the sake of the connection, some- 
thing more than the immediate purpose requires, we commence 
with the thirteenth chapter, where this great matter is first 

1 * The Burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see. 

2 Lift ye up a banner upon the the high mountain ; 
Exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, 
That they may go into the gates of the nobles. 

3 I have commanded my sanctified ones, 

I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, 
Even them that rejoice in my highness. 

4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people ; 
A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together : 
The Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. 

5 They come from a far country, 
From the end of heaven ; 

Even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation. 
To destroy the whole land. 

6 Howl ye I for the day of the Lord is at hand ; 

It shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. 

7 Therefore shall all hands be faint ; 
And every man's heart shall melt : 

8 And they shall be afraid ; 

172 Eighteenth Week— Fifth Day. 

Pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; 
They shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth : 
They shall be amazed at one another; 
Their faces shall be as flames. 
9 Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, 
Cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, 
To lay the land desolate ; 
And He shall destroy the sinners thereof oat of it. 

10 For the stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof 
Shall not give their light : 

The sun shall be darkened in his going forth. 
And the moon shall not cause her light to shine. 

11 And I will punish the world for their evil, 
And the wicked for their iniquity ; 

And I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease^ 
And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 

12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold ; 
Even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. 

13 Therefore I will shake the heavens. 

And the earth shall remove out of her place. 
In the wrath of the Lord of hosts, 
And in the day of his fierce anger. 

14 And it [Babylon] shall be as the chased roe. 
And as a sheep that no man taketh up ; 
They shall every man turn to his own people. 
And flee every one into his own land. 

15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through. 

And every one that is joined imto them shall fall by the sword. 

16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; 
Their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished. 

17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, 
Which shall not regard silver ; 

And as for gold, they shall not delight in it. 

18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces ; 
And they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb ; 
Their eye shall not spare [even] children. 

19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms. 
The beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, 

Shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.' 

The sequel of the chapter goes on to illustrate by many striking 
and beautiful images the state of desolation to which Babylon 
should be eventually reduced, and in which, accordingly, she 
now lies. 

Gold Disregarded. 173 

The passage which we have quoted is less specific in its 
allusions to the siege by Cyrus than some of those that follow ; 
and, like the others, it extends its view so as to comprehend a 
subsequent and more ruinous siege by Darius Hystaspis, with 
the desolation which a long series of disasters would in the 
course of time produce. 

It is seen that the prophecy here opens very grandly. The 
prophet, in his vision, first hears the voice of the Almighty 
addressed to the nations, as subject to Him, and commanding 
them to raise the standard of war, and to gather around it the 
mighty armies, of various nations and tongues, which wepre to 
be employed against the doomed city. This summons is ex- 
pressed very emphatically — ^by exalting the standard, calling 
with the voice, beckoning with the hand. Then stUl more 
emphatically the Lord declares that He has himself called to 
this great work the Persian host — 'his sanctified ones' — ^as 
being set apart or consecrated for this duty ; mighty to execute 
his wrath; exulting in the great plan they are appointed to 

In the fourth verse we see clearly that this host was to be 
composed of numerous and diverse nations, which was emi- 
nentiy true of the host which Cyrus brought fi:om the conquest 
of the west, and in which he had incorporated troops firom 
many different countries. Xenophon, in his account of the 
siege, incidentally names Phrygians, Lydians, Arabians, and 
Cappadodans, as among other foreigners who served on this 
occasion in the army of the Persians. As a climax in the pro- 
phetic description, we learn that it is the Lord of hosts himself 
who takes the command of this great army and musters its 
hosts to battie. 

Then, in the fifth verse, we are told more distinctiy that these 
troops came firom distant parts. To this it has been objected, 
that Media and Persia, so far fi*om being distant with respect 
to Babylonia, were the very next countries to it. But it is 
overlooked that the army contained, as just stated, large bodies 
of men fi*om almost the remotest parts westward, and (as will 
presentiy appear) northward, with which the Babylonians were 

1 74 Eighteenth Week— Fifth Day. 

acquainted ; and it is far from unlikely that the original Persian 
army contained many troops from Bactria, which was a very 
remote country with respect to Babylon. Besides, if under- 
stood only of the Medes and Persians, it is clear that, although 
neighbours, they advanced against Babylon after having been 
far away, engaged in the conquest of remote countries. 

The sequel aflfords a lively picture of the consternation and 
alarm of a people suddenly abandoning all hope and giving 
themselves up to despair ; and we know from the result that 
this must have been the case, when, in the height of their 
fancied security, and in the midst of their festivities, they found 
the city in the hands of the Persians. Nothing can evince this 
more clearly than the fact, that no defence or resistance was 
attempted. This circumstance is beautifully amplified in the 
fourteenth verse by the images of the chased roe and the 
shepherdless sheep. 

There seems in the remaining verses we have quoted a tran- 
sition of ideas — ^representing two actions as one — to the more 
cruel sack of the city by Darius Hystaspis. But the first clause 
is sufficiently applicable to the capture by Cyrus : * Every one 
that is overtaken shall be thrust through,' agrees very well with 
the fact recorded by Xenophon, that the parties of horse sent 
to scour the streets on the night in which the city was taken, 
had strict orders to slay all whom they might meet with out of 

The remarkable verse, the seventeenth, in which the Medes 
and Persians are described as regardless of silver and gold in 
this service, claims special attention. It is in every way a 
singular prediction, because it is by no means a characteristic 
of conquerors to be regardless of these things, which, indeed, 
have been the chief objects of many great military under- 
takings. But let us see how it was borne out 

On returning from his successful campaign in Armenia 
against the Chaldeans, who had invaded that country, Cjnrus 
was met by the wife of the Armenian king, who had brought 
with her immense treasure with which to testify the gratitude of 
the nation. This treasure had been kept hidden and hoarded 

Gold Disregarded. 175 

up by the king, who had, however, before offered it to Cyrus, 
by whom it had been declined. So now he said to the princess, 
*I cannot consent to appear as a man who goes about the 
world bestowing his services for money. Go your way, woman, 
and keep all the treasure that you have brought ; but do not 
suffer your husband again to hoard it up. Employ it rather 
in equipping your son becomingly for the wars ; and let the 
rest be spent in providing whatever of use or elegance may 
enable you, with your husband and children, to spend your 
days in a pleasant and becoming manner. Let it suffice us to 
lay our bodies under ground when we die.' 

In another campaign against the Assyrians, in which he was 
assisted by the Hyrcanians and others, he induced his Persians 
to give up with alacrity to the allies the rich spoil they had 
obtained from the enemy, himself setting the example. This 
was not the only occasion on which he showed himself regard- 
less of spoil, and on which the forces under him evinced the 
same spirit. 

More remarkable still, in connection with the special refer- 
ence to the Medes in the present text, is the commencement 
of the speech which, on one occasion, Cyrus made to them and 
other allies : * Medes, and all you who are here present, I know 
well that you have not come with me out of any desire of ac- 
quiring wealth.' 

On another occasion, Cyrus, with his friends and the chiefs 
of his army, was hospitably entertained by Gobryas, an Ass)Tian 
governor, whose son had been slain by the Babylonian king, 
and whose hope for protection and vengeance lay in the Per- 
sians. This person, in the presence of this noble party, pro- 
duced a vast quantity of precious treasure — vessels of gold, rich 
furniture and apparel, gold coin without count, and all sorts of 
valuables. Last of all, he introduced his daughter as one 
mourning for her brother's loss ; and he said : * Cyrus, all these 
treasures I bestow upon thee. This, my daughter, I also en- 
trust to thee, to dispose of as thou deemest best. But we are 
both thy suppliants. I cry to thee to be the avenger of my 
son ; she, that thou wilt avenge her brother.' Cyrus promised 

1 76 Eighteenth Week — Fifth Day. 

all they wished ; but as for the treasures— ' These,' said he, ' I 
also accept, but only to bestow them on this thy daughter, and 
on the man who may espouse her,' Not long after, some de- 
tachment which had been sent into the Babylonian teiritory 
returned with abundant spoil. Cyrus called togetiher the com- 
manders, and proposed that, in acknowledgment of tie hospi- 
tality with which they had been treated, they should, after de- 
ducting what was due to the gods, and what might be necessary 
to suffice the soldiers, give all the rest — all their own shares — 
to Gobiyas. This proposal was highly ap- 
plauded by the officers ; and one of them 
I said, ' Let us do this by all means. I be- 
lieve,' he added, ' that Gobiyas took ns for 
a beggarly people, because we come not with 
darics ' in abundance, and do not drink out 
of cups of gold. But if we do as you propose, he will under- 
stand that it is possible, even for those who have no gold, to be 

Instances to the same effect might be multiplied. Indeed, 
the indifference to spoil and gain which Cyrus himself felt, and 
with which he, to a great extent, succeeded in inspiring his 
soldiers, was so continually evinced in his career, as to come to 
be reckoned a characteristic of the general and of his army. 
Crcesus, in whom the principle of accumulation was as strongly 
exemplified as was that of dispersive hberality in Cyrus, was 
astonished at the little regard he had for silver, and the small 
delight he took in gold ; and warned him, that with sndi 
opportunities as few men ever possessed of accumulating vast 
treasures, he must, on this principle of conduct, expect to be 
always poor. 

Recent researches among the deserted ruins of Babylonia have 
served greatly to illustrate the incidents of Bible history, and in 
some cases to clear away harassing difficulties. An instance of the 
latter kind, connected witli tlie capture of Babylon by Cyrus, may 
here be related. Hitherto the historic narrative of Berosus was 
supposed to be at variance with that recorded in the book of 
^ A Persian go!d coin worth twenty-five shillines. 

Incidents of Ancient Warfare. 177 

DanieL But the discovery of an inscribed tablet at Mugheir solved 
the difficulty, and perfectly reconciled narratives that appeared to 
be absolutely irreconcilable. The facts are as follows : 

Daniel states that the name of the last king of Babylon was Bel- 
shazzarj and that he was slain in the city on the night in which it 
was captured by the Medo-Persian army (Dan. v. 22, 30). Berosus, 
on the other hand, calls the last king Nabonadius^ and says that, 
on the approach of Cyrus, he went out with an army to meet him 
in the field. He retired, however, upon the city of Borsippa, was 
blockaded there, and at length surrendered. Cyrus spared his life, 
and even gave him an estate in Carmania, on which he resided for 
some time, and died a natural death, Herodotus, again, tells a 
different story. But sceptics, seeing the discrepancy between the 
accounts of Daniel and Berosus, were not slow to affirm that the 
narrative of the sacred writer was a fiction. 

A few years ago, Mr. Loftus discovered some inscribed cylinders 
at Mugheir (Ur of the Chaldees). They were deciphered by«Sir 
Henry Rawlinson. From them it appears that the eldest son of 
Nabonadius was called Belsharezer, and that he was associated 
with his father in the government. We have no difficulty in identi- 
fying the Belsharezer of the inscriptions with the Belshazzar of 
DanieL It would appear, therefore, that when Nabonadius went 
out to meet Cyrus, he left his son in command of the city. Bel- 
shazzar was probably but a youth, of strong passions and luxurious 
habits. Left in possession of supreme power, without control, it 
was only natural to give way to revelry and dissipation, and to neglect, 
amid the excitement of a great religious feast, the important duty 
of watching the city. While the youthful monarch drank wine with 
his nobles in the magnificent halls of the palace, his doom was 
written upon the wall by the mysterious hand ; and at that moment 
the Persians entered Babylon, and ere the prophetic symbols were 
well interpreted, * Belshazzar was slain.' 

€v^ttx^ Mwk— Sbtj^ gag, 


The fourteenth chapter of Isaiah is occupied with a magnificent 
triumphal ode on the overthrow of Babylon. But as this sup- 


178 Eighteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

plies no circumstaBtial details of the kind we here seek, we 
pass on to the twenty-first chapter. The subject, as we have 
already partly considered it, is resumed with many new and 
interesting intimations. 

t * The burden of the desert of the sea. 

As whirlwinds in the south pass through ; 
So it Cometh from the desert, 
From a terrible land. 

2 A grievous vision is declared unto me : 

The treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth.^ 

Go up, O Elam 1 beside, O Media ! 

All the sighing thereof have I made to cease. ^ 

3 Therefore are my loins filled with pain : 

Pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that 

travaileth ; 
I was bowed down at the hearing of it ; 
I was dismayed at the seeing of it. 

4 My heart panted, fearfulness affiighted me ; 

The night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me. 

5 Prepare the table, 
Watch in the watch-tower. 
Eat, drink : 

Arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield. 

6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me. 

Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. 

7 And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, 
A chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels ; 
And he hearkened diligently with much heed : 

8 And he cried, A lion : ^ 

My lord, I stand continually upon the watch-tower in the day-time. 
And I am set in my ward whole nights. 

9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men 
With a couple of horsemen. 

And he answered, and said, 
Babylon is fallen, is fallen ! 
And all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground. ' 

* Not well translated. Better thus, as in Henderson : 

* The plunderer plundering, and the destroyer destroying.* 

* Rather, * all the*cause of sighing ;' that is, the oppression, etc 

5 Some render this into, * He cried out like a lion ;' others by 'like a 
lion [they come].' The latter seems to come in best The original is 
simply ' a lion,* as in the authorized version. 

Incidents of Ancient Warfare. 179 

'This orax:le, or ode,* says Mr. Barnes, in his Notes on 
Isaiah (here amplifying Lowth), *is one of singular beauty. 
It is distinguished for its brevity, enei^, and force; for the 
variety and the rapidity of the action ; and for the vivid manner 
in which the events are made to pass before the mind. It is 
the language of strong excitement and of alarm ; language that 
expresses rapid and important movements ; and language ap- 
propriate to great vigour of conception, and sublimity of de- 
scription. In the oracle the prophet supposes himself at Baby- 
lon, and the. events which are described are made to pass 
rapidly in vision before him.* 

He first sees a dreadful storm coming at a distance, figuring 
the hostile armies, approaching like a whirlwind, and threatening 
destraction to everything in its way. This comparison is the 
more appropriate, as the approach of such whirlwinds as the 
prophet has in view is indicated by vast and dense bodies of dust 
and sand raised into the air, and presenting in the distance an 
appearance not at all dissimilar to that which is occasioned by 
the clouds of dust raised by the advance of a large body of men 
and cattle. In Babylon, as in Palestine, such whirlwinds come 
mostly fix)m the south, in which direction the arid deserts of 
Arabia extend. Hence the whirlwind is here properly referred 
to that direction, although the invasion figured by it came from 
another quarter. 

The prophet then (verse 2) represents himself as acquainted 
with the real purport of the vision; and he hears the voice 
of God, summoning Elam (Persia) and Media to the siege. 
Regarding himself as among the exiles in Babylon, and in 
view of these invading hosts (verses 3, 4), he describes himself 
as deeply affected at the view of this sudden invasion, and of 
the calamities that hung over Babylon. The images here 
employed are such as are firequentiy used in Scripture to 
express the utmost intensity of agitation and concern. It is 
somewhat doubtful whether the prophet expresses this in his 
own person or in that of Babylon. Barnes thinks the former ; 
Lowth and Henderson the latter, and with them we are dis- 
posed to agree, as there is no reason why the prophet should 

1 8o Eighteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

express so much concern at the accomplishment of that at 
which he elsewhere exults, and which is everywhere upheld 
as a triumphal fulfilment of the Lord's purposes. 

In the next verse (5), the prophet, in his own person, de- 
scribes the state of the Babylonians. This is done in a few 
rapid and graphic words. The night of fear is one of destined 
pleasure. They are represented as preparing the table, making 
ready for feasting and revelry, setting the watch on the watch- 
tower, and giving themselves up to feasting ; and then as being 
suddenly alarmed, and called upon to anoint the shield, and 
prepare for war. Nothing can more strikingly depict the night- 
capture of the city by Cyrus, during a night of feasting, as 
already described. Take it as we will, this is one of the most 
surprising prophecies ever uttered, and second only, in con- 
vincing effect, to that in which C)rrus is called by name to the 
great work which was given him to do. It is in every respect 
as exact as if the whole scene were, as it seems to have been 
in vision, present, in all its circumstances, to the narrator's 
mind ; or as if, at least, it had been written immediately after, 
instead of several generations before the event As it was 
impossible for any human imagination to guess at so singular 
a combination of circumstances, we must regard this as one of 
the strong points calculated to impress the mind of Cyrus, 
when the prophecy was presented to his notice, and to work 
in him the convictions on which he acted. Those who strive 
to illustrate the memory of this great man have little reason 
to exult that he yielded to such evidence ; for he must have 
been not only much less candid and open-minded than he really 
was, but much less so than mankind usually are, had he resisted 
the sunbeam evidence which this and other passages supply. 

Even the circumstance of fixing the guards finds corrobora- 
tion ; for, in the account which Xenophon gives of the transac- 
tions in Babylon, he says that the inhabitants, *■ having arranged 
their guards, drank till light* 

The call to * anoint the shield ' seems to have been a well- 
known call to arms, amounting to, * Hold your weapons ready 
for action.' And this was founded upon the circumstance, that 

Incidents of A ncient Warfare. 1 8 1 

the ancient shields being mostly of stout leather stretched over 
a frame or rim of metal or wood, it was necessary to rub them 
with oil, lest they should become hard and crack, or lest they 
should become so rigid that an arrow or spear might easily 
penetrate them. Shields of this kind are still much in use, 
and still require the same treatment, in Western Asia; and 
we have ourselves frequently seen them on sale in the bazaars, 
and in use among the Arabs, the Kiirds, and the Caucasians. 

The prophet next proceeds to describe what came to pass. 
He does not narrate the matter directly, but he describes 
himself as instructed to appoint a watchman to announce what 
he shall see. The watchman sees troops approaching, variously 
mounted, and intended, without doubt, to indicate what would 
actually be most conspicuous to a person viewing the advancing 
hosts from the high places of Babylon. He sees a troop of 
horses, two abreast (for so the text is to be understood), then 
a troop of asses, then a troop of camels. The horses require 
no particular explanation, as Jthe Persians have been famous 
for their cavalry in all ages, and were so in the age of Cyrus. 
But let it be observed, that in this prediction there is something 
of the same nature as the prediction of that hero's name before 
he existed. For the Persians had no partiality for cavalry 
before the time of Cyrus ; and it was owing to his measures, 
his care, and his exhortations that they were rendered so 
famous as horsemen, and acquired a taste which survives 
among them to this day. This matter is very conspicuously 
set forth by' Xenophon ; and by him also it is particularly 
mentioned that, as here described, the Persian cavalry marched 
in double ranks. 

It is remarkable that the contemporary Persian sculptures 
afford no examples of men on horseback, although they occur 
abundantly in the Sassanian sculptures of a later date, when 
the costumes of the people and the caparisons of the horses 
had become strikingly different. There are, however, a few led 
horses, as if ready for mounting ; and the simplicity of their 
furniture is in striking contrast with the showy trappings of the 
Assyrian cavalry. But in these we still find the * bell,' men- 

i82 Eighteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

tioned in Zech. xiv. to. The horses also seem of heavier fotm 
than those of die Assyrians. The same comparative simplicity 

is likewise seen in the chariots, which are devoid of ornament, 
and are of a much heavier build than those of the Assyrians. 

Then as to the camels. There has been much conjecture 
with respect to them. The Bedouin Arabs certainly use tiiem 
in their battles, and the modem Persians have a kind of artil- 
lery mounted on camels. It is known also, that in all eastern 
armies camels have been much in request for the carriage of 
baggage. But we need not any of these sources of illustratioaj 
for we have seen, in the description of tiie battle of Thybaira, 
that Cyrus had in his army a corps of camels mounted by 
Arabian archers ; and that these camels rendered him essentia] 
service on more than one occasion. Some persons have sup- 
posed, from the anecdotes there related, that the camels were 

Incidents of Ancient Warfare. 183 

employed merely to frighten the horses of the enemy ; but if 
they had examined the matter more closely, they would have 
seen that this use of them was merely incidental^ and was 
founded upon an observation (made probably by Cyrus him- 
self), that the sight and smell of camels were offensive to horses 
not accustomed to them — their proper use being to carry two 
skilful archers, back to back. It is highly probable that the 
Arabians, who, as Xenophon states, were present at the siege 
of Babylon, were no other than the riders of these camels. 

We trace the same minute accuracy in the mention of asses. 
Many of our readers will say that they never heard of asses 
being employed in war. Yet so it was ; and that, too, in the 
army of the Persians. We do not, indeed, find any direct 
testimony as to their use in the army of Cyrus ; but the fact 
that they were used, may be inferred from our knowledge that 
asses are expressly mentioned by Strabo, as having been em- 
ployed by Darius Hystaspis in his warfare against the Scythians. 
Whether it was that they formed a regular part of the military 
force, or that there was something in the special service against 
Babylon which rendered the employment of asses important, 
cannot be determined. It is enough to show, that they were 
sometimes used by the Persians in their military operations ; 
and it is to be borne in mind, that the asses in question were 
something very different fi:om those we are in the habit of seeing 
— ^the species in those parts being the finest in the world, of 
large size, of comely proportions, of much strength, and of con- 
siderable fleetness. 

It appears to us that the eighth verse, in which the watchman 
describes himself as having watched day and night, is intro- 
duced to mark an interval of the action corresponding to the 
two years which Cyrus spent before the walls of Babylon, 
during which he carefully took note of what was to come of 
this great array. With reference to that passage, let it be 
observed, that when the ancients stationed a watch for a 
special purpose, they did not continually relieve and change 
the watcher, but kept the same man as much as possible on 
duty, that they might secure the benefit of his practised observa- 

1 84 Eighteenth Week^Sixth Day, 

tion. The text, * I stand continually upon the watch-tower in 

the day-time, and I am set in my ward whole nights,* has been 

pointed out in the Pictorial Bible as being remarkably similar 

to a passage at the opening of the Agamemnon of Eschylus, 

being the speech of the watcher who had long been stationed 

upon his tower to look out for the signal which should make 

known that Troy had fallen. It is given in the words of 

Symmons's translation : 

* For ever thus ? O keep me not, ye gods, 
For ever thus, fixed in the lonely tower 
Of Atreus* palace, from whose height I gaze, 
0*erwatched and weary, like a night dog still 
Fixed to my post ; meanwhile the rolling year 
Moves on, and I my wakeful vigils keep. 
By the cold star-like sheen of spangled skies.' 

After this pause, the sacred watcher perceives the final move- 
ment j he sees them come in ^ like lions,' and, in his certainty 
of the inevitable consequences, cries : * Babylon is fallen, 


This has been pointed out by writers on rhetoric as a very 
fine example of intensity of expression given by iteration. It 
has been imitated with advantage, though to the verge of 
exaggeration, by Dryden, in the greatest ode the English lan- 
guage possesses ; and that with reference to the last of the 
ancient Persian kings : 

' He sang Darius great and good. 

By too severe a fate. 
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen, 
Fallen from his high estate. 

And weltering in his blood : 
Deserted at his utmost need 
By those his former bounty fed ; 
On the bare earth exposed he lies. 
With not a friend to close his eyes.' 

Alexander's FeasL 

Details from yeremiah^ 185 



The prophecies concerning Babylon in the forty-fifth and forty- 
sixth chapters of Isaiah, treat generally of the destruction 
awaiting that city ; and C3rrjs is distinctly named as the Lord's 
instrument for the subversion of the Babylonian empire. 

The greater portion of these prophecies has been before 
referred to in illustration of matters which have already en- 
gaged our attention, according to the order which we have 
formed for the more connected consideration of the whole 
subject, such as the character and religion of Cyrus, and the 
confederacy of Croesus. They contain little that bears upon 
the military operations against Babylon. There are, however, 
one or two passages demanding our special observation before 
we proceed to the parallel prophecy of Jeremiah, which it seems 
desirable to consider here in order to complete the subject. 
There is first this remarkable passage in Isaiah xliv. 27 : 

* That saith to the deep, " Be dry ;" 
And, ** I will dry up thy rivers." * 

There is no mistaking the application of this to Babylon ; and 
in Jeremiah li. 36, we have the parallel passage applied by 
name to that city : ' I will dry up her sea, and make her springs 
dry.' Taking this in connection with the other prophecies 
which have engaged our attention, it is impossible to doubt 
that this is a prediction of the means by which C)rrus was to 
gain access to the city, namely, by the bold and extraordinary 
operation of exhausting the bed of the river, in the way which 
has already been described ; forming, therefore, one of these 
wonderful points in the prophecy, which, being utterly beyond 
all the possibilities of human calculation, prove it to be indeed 
the word of God. 
Of the same nature is the other passage which we quote 

1 86 Eighteenth Week — Seventh Day. 

from Isaiah xlv. i, 2, where the Lord, speaking of Cyrus, 
declares his intention concerning him thus : 

' I will loose the loins of kings, 
To open before him the two-leaved gates ; 
And the gates shall not be shut. 
■ • • • • 

I will break in pieces the gates of brass, 
And cut in sunder the bars of iron.' 

Now, although this may have, and probably has, a general 
reference to the facility with which strong towns should be 
acquired by him, it is impossible to doubt that it has special 
reference to the singular and most providential circumstance, 
that the river gates of Babylon were left open on the night of 
the festival. Indeed, the words, ' The gates shall not be shut,' 
seem to express the matter as plainly as words can do ; and 
they imply a peculiarity strictly applicable to the case ; for it is 
usual to say that the gates of a besieged town were opened or 
were beaten down; but that they were *not shut' at a time 
when it was customary to shut tiiem, is a very diflferent and 
much rarer matter. Let it be noted also that the gates were of 
^ brass ;' and that Babylon was famous for its brazen gates. 
They were one hundred in number, twenty-five on each side of 
the city ; and the valves, as well as the posts and pivots, were 
of massive brass. The whole matter was so extraordinary, so 
much beyond the range of human speculation, that when Cyrus 
was made acquainted with this prophecy, he must have felt 
that the circumstance had been ordered by a special provi- 
dence, to which he owed not only his victory but his safety. 
It is admitted by Herodotus, that if the Babylonians had 
possessed but the slightest intimation or forethought of the 
plan of Cyrus, and had only kept shut the inner gates leading 
to the river, the Persian host might have been caught in the 
bed of the stream as in a net, and destroyed at leisure. 

The fiftieth and fifty-first chapters of Jeremiah are occupied 
with a prophecy, parallel to those of Isaiah, of the capture of 
Babylon by the Persians, and of the desolation which should 
eventually fall upon that great city. As nearly the same facts 

Details front yeremiak. 


aie stated in both prophecies, and often in nearly tlie same 
form of words, we shall not quote Jeremiah's prophecy at 
length, but shall rather select those points involving facts 
which have not already come under our notice, and such 
details as aze more distinctly produced in this than in any 
other prophecy. 

' Put jounelves in airay against Babylon round about : 

All ;e that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows ; 

For she hath sinned against the Lord.'— Jer. 1, 14. 

There the weapon for which the Persians were famous is pro- 
minently produced, as the chief arm to be employed against 
Babylon. Again, in the twenty-ninth verse : 
' Call together the archers against Babylon ; 
All ye that bend the bov, camp against it round abont ;' 
— ^which last line is very distinct, as showing not only that the 
arrow was to be the principal weapon of the besiegers, but that 
they were to encamp around the city, as they did for two years. 
We have all heard that the three things principally taught to the 

youth of ancient Persia were, to ride, to shoot with the bow, and 
to speak the truth. In fact, when Cyrus first obtained com- 
mand of an army, he found that the arms in which the Persians 
were most expert were the bow and the javelin, and that they 
had no weapons suited to close action. These he strove to 
introduce, and did so to a considerable extent j but the bow 
sdll remained the chief and favourite weapon of the nation ; 

1 88 Eighteenth Week — Seventh Day, 

and it continued to be such till the introduction of the gun, 
which was, however, slow in superseding it, and has not com- 
pletely done so even to our own day. 

Another passage in the same (fiftieth) chapter of Jeremiah 
gives a vivid picture of the character of the host (composed as 
it was of auxiliaries from various nations, many of them dis^ 
tant) which came against Babylon. The particulars have been 
already illustrated j but the passage may be here produced, as 
every phrase in it contains a historical fact : 

41 ' Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, 

And many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. 

42 They shall hold the bow and the lance : 
They are cruel, and will not show m^rcy : 
Their voice shall roar like the sea. 

And they shall ride upon horses. 

Every one put in array, like a man to the battle. 

Against thee, O daughter of Babylon. ' 

The verse we next quote, being the 12 th of the fifty-first chapter, 
gives the same particulsirs as have been considered in connec- 
tion with Isaiah ; but there is one important addition in the 
reference to * the ambushes,* or, as in the margin of our Bibles, 
* the Hers in wait,* which is a manifest allusion to the men who 
were stationed at the extremities of the city, to march in by the 
bed of the rivei as soon as its stream should be drained. 

* Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, 
Make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, 
Prepare the ambushes : 
For the Lord hath both devised and done 
That which He spake against the inhabitants of Babylon.' 

There is here a clear indication of the use of standards among 
the Persians. We do not find any illustration of this fact among 
the sculptures. According to the native authorities, the stan- 
dard of Persia firom before the time of Cyrus to the Moslem 
conquest, was — a blacksmith's apron ! It was the apron of 
a blacksmith named Kawah, who relieved the country firom 
the oppressions of the tyrant Zohak, and placed the rightfiil 
heir (Feridun) on the throne of his Others. The blacksmith 
had used his apron as a standard; and it was adopted as 

Details from Jeremiah. 189 

the national banner by the grateful Feridun. As such, it 
was richly ornamented with jewels, to which every king from 
Feridun to the last of the Pehlivi monarchs added. If this 
legend be true, and there seems no reason against it, this 
blacksmith's apron may have been the standard set up on the 
walls of Babylon. 

Further on in the same chapter there is a passage which we 
must quote, on account of the strong and emphatic manner in 
which it describes the instrumentality of Cyrus and his army. 
It is true that Cyrus is not named by Jeremiah, as by Isaiah ; 
but we are throughout enabled to recognise him by the corre- 
spondence of the prophecies, and by the fact that they must be 
applicable to the conqueror of Babylon, and that was Cyrus : 

20 * Thou art my battle-axe and weapons of war : 

For with thee will I break in pieces the nations ; 
And with thee will I destroy kingdoms ; 

21 And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider ; 
And with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider ; 

22 With thee also will I break in pieces man and woman ; 
And with thee will I break in pieces old and young ; 

And with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid ; 

23 I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock ; 
And with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke 

of oxen ; 
And with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers ; 

24 And I will render unto Babylon, 
And to all the inhabitants of Chaldea, 
All their evil that they have done in Zion, 
In your sight, saith the Lord.* 

The other verses we are about to cite from this chapter, are 
those which contain the most considerable of the new points 
which Jeremiah offers concerning the siege ; and for the sake 
of the connection we produce them here, though generally 
averse to travel beyond the book on which we are formally 
engaged : 

27 * Set ye up a standard in the land, 

Blow the trumpet among the nations ; 

Prepare the nations against her. 

Call together against her 

The kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz ; 

190 Eighteenth Week-^Seventh Day, , 

Appoint a captain against her ; 

Cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillars [locusts]. 

28 Prepare against her the nations, 
WiUi the kings of the Medes, 

The captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof. 
And all the land of his dominion. ^ 

29 And the land shall tremble and sorrow : 

For every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon, 
To make the land of Babylon a desolation, 
"Without an inhabitant. 

30 The mighty men of Babylon have forborne to fight. 

They have remained in their holds : their might bath failed ; 

They became as women : 

They have burned her dwelling-places ; 

Her bars are broken. 

31 One post shall run to meet another. 
And one messenger to meet another, 
To show the king of Babylon 
That his city is taken at one end ;' 

32 And that the passages are stopped. 

And the reeds^ they have burned with fire. 
And the men of war are affi:^hted.' 

The twenty-seventh verse is very interesting, from its particular 
mention of the northern auxiliaries which were engaged in &e 
siege. It is agreed that Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz, repre- 
sent provinces in or near Armenia, and to the north of Media 
— Media itself being to the north of Babylon. Now, it is by no 
means explicitly stated in history that troops of these nations 
were present at the siege. But we felt anxious to ascertain tbe 
actual presence of forces so conspicuously mentioned by the 
inspired prophet, and have the satisfaction of believing that we 
have succeeded. Looking back, then, to an earlier period in tbe 

* This verse reads better in Blayney's translation : 
' Enlist nations against her. 
The king of Media, the captains thereof, 
And all the rulers thereof. 
And all the land under his dominion. ' 
2 Better, 'from end to end.* — Blayney. 

3 Right literally; but probably, in fact, 'stockades,' as Henderson. 
Blayney*s * torches* is objectionable, as requiring a new rendering of the 
Hebrew text 

Details from yeremiak. 191 

history of these important events, we find that before Cyrus set 
forth upon the great war whicli has been described in a preceding 
Reading, and of which the capture of Babylon was the illustrious 
consummation, he was joined by Tigranes, son of the Armenian 
king, with a force consisting of four thousand horse, ten thou- 
sand archers, and ten thousand armed with shield and £;pear. 
We hear little of the subsequent exploits of this force separately 
considered. But its presence through all the war is manifested 
by that of its commander, who stood high in the fcivour of 
Cyrus, and who was among the allies dismissed with distinction 
and much spoil to his own home, after the affairs of the East 
had been settled by the conquest of Babylon. This we col- 
lect from Xenophon ; and the Armenian historians, in entire 
conformity with these intimations, state more explicitly that 
Tigranes, at the head of the Armenian army, acted with 
Cyrus in the war which gave him possession of the Lydian 
empire, and afterwards proceeded with him to the siege of 
Babylon, in which service the Armenian forces took a dis- 
tinguished part. ^ 

The thirtieth verse, in which the Babylonians are described 
as abiding within their holds and forbearing to fight, is in cir- 
cumstantial agreement with the history, from which we learn, 
as in the sketch we have given of the operations, that the 
Babylonians, having been defeated and driven back by Cyrus 
when they went forth to oppose him on his first approach, 
never afterwards stirred beyond the walls. 

The statement in the same verse, that the dwelling-places 
should be burned, does not at the first view appear to be cor- 
roborated by the history. But on closer inspection we find 
that this measure was present to the mind of the Persians 
before they entered the city, and was without doubt to some 
extent executed. In the short speech which Cyrus is reported 
to have made to the soldiers before they entered the bed of 
the Euphrates, he alludes to their principal danger, which 
appears to have been regarded with apprehension — that of 
being assaulted with missiles from the house-tops as they passed 

^ See Avdall's History of Armenia. Calcutta, 1827. 

192 Eighteenth Week — Seventh Day. 

through the streets. He told them that if the inhabitants 
retreated to the house-tops, the best course would be to assail 
their doors by setting them on fire. He observed that the 
porches were very combustible, the doors being made of palm- 
wood and coated with bitumen ; and as the army was supplied 
with torches and tow in abundance, it would be very easy to 
set the houses in flames, when the inhabitants must either come 
out of their dwellings or be consumed in them. 

More remarkable still is the intimation in the next verse, 
that messengers from the opposite sides of the city would meet 
at the royal palace in the centre, to apprise the king that the 
city was taken from end to end. That this actually took place 
we know, as two detachments entered by the bed of the river, 
at the opposite ends of the city, and agreed to meet in the 
centre at the royal palace. So singular a circumstance could 
not beforehand have appeared probable to any human imagina- 
tion ; and the mention of it would alone suffice to impress the 
heartfelt conviction, that the prophet spoke under the direction 
and control of Him * who declares the end from the beginning,* 
and to whose eternal mind all the future, of all the ages to 
come, is as present as all that has been done in all the ages 

In reading these remarkable prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, 
one is apt to forget or overlook dates. The impression almost 
forces itself on the mind, that the prophets, though describing 
events still future, are at least speaking of a kingdom already in 
existence, and of a prince already living and reigning. It requires 
an effort even to suppose that Persia was still unknown as a nation 
for a long period after the death of Isaiah ; and that Cyrus, who is 
mentioned by name, and whose acts are detailed with such minute- 
ness and graphic power, was not bom for more than a century and 
a quarter after the prophecy was recorded. Under such circum- 
stances, we cannot wonder that sceptics question at one time the 
authenticity and genuineness of the book, and at another, the rele- 
vancy of the prophecy. But the Bible does not shrink from inquiry. 
It courts the fullest investigation. It passes unscathed through the 
most searching criticism. The age in which Isaiah lived and pro- 
phesied, is as firmly established as any event of ancient history. The 

Details from Jeremiah. 193 

genuineness of his prophecies, few thoughtful students will question, 
no thorough critic will venture to deny. Keeping these facts in 
view, and also bearing in mind the circumstantiality and minute- 
ness of detail, already explained by Dr. Kitto, in the prophecies of 
both Isaiah and Jeremiah, it may now be well to give a few illus- 
trative dates. 

Isaiah began to prophesy in the reign of Uzziah (ch. i. i), who 
died B.C 758, and ceased in the reign of Hezekiah, who died B.C. 
698. The * Burden of Babylon ' appears to have been among his 
earlier prophecies, and may perhaps be dated about B.C. 712. 
Jeremiah began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign 
(i. 2), B.C 625, and continued till the * carrying away of Jerusalem 
captive,' that is, till B.C 587. His prediction regarding the de- 
struction of Babylon by Cyrus, may be dated at about B.C 595. 
Cyrus appears to have been bom about B.C. 593 : he began to 
reign in B.C. 559, and he captured Babylon in B.C. 538. Therefore 
Isaiah's prophecy regarding Cyrus was uttered about 120 years 
before the birth of that monarch, 153 years before he began to reign, 
and no less than 174 years before he captured Babylon, the incidents 
of which capture are described with such minute accuracy.. 



Thirty years ago, before * the Ix>rd caused me to wander from 
my fatlia:*s house,' and from my native place, I put my mark 
upon this passage in Isaiah, — ' I am the Lord : they shall not 
be ashamed that wait for me.' Of the many books I now 
possess, the Bible that bears this mark is the only one that 
belonged to me at that time. It now lies before me ; and I 
find that, although the hair which was then dark as night has 
meanwhile become ' a sable sUvered,' the ink which marked 
this text has grown into intensity of blackness as the time ad- 
vanced, corresponding with, and in fact recording, the growing 
intensity of the conviction, that * they shall not be ashamed 
that wait for Thee.' I believed it then, but I know it now ; 
and I can write prohaium est with my whole heart, over against 
the symbol, which that mark is to me, of my ancient faith. 

' They shall not be ashamed that wait for me.* Looking 
back through the long period which has passed since I set my 
mark to these words — a portion of human life which forms the 
best and brightest, as well as the most trying and conflicting in 
all men's experience, — ^it is a joy to be able to say : ' I have 
waited for Thee, and have not been ashamed. Under many 
perilous circumstances, in many most trpng scenes, amid 
faintings within and fears without, and under sorrows that rend 
the heart, and troubles that crush it down, I have waited for 
Thee ; and, lo, I stand this day as one not ashamed.' 

Old scholars and divines were wont to write or paint on the 
walls of their studies some favourite sentence from the sages of 
old, or some chosen text of Scripture. Those inclined to 
follow this custom, could not do better than write up this one 
word, * Wait.' It is but a monosyllable ; yet it is fuller of 


Wait, 195 

meaning than any other word in the language, and it is appli- 
cable to all ages and to all circumstances. At the first shght 
view, merely to *wait,' seems so simple a thing, that it is 
scarcely entitled to be called a grace ; and yet larger promises 
are made to it than to any other grace, except faith; and 
hardly, indeed, with that exception, for the grace of * waiting* 
is part of the grace of faith — ^is a form of faith— is, as some 
would describe it, an effect of faith, or, more strictly, one of 
its most fruitfiil manifestations. 

Great and singular is the honour which God has set upon 
patient waiting for Him. Man, seeing not as God sees, sets 
higher value upon his fellows' active works — ^the bright deeds 
of days or hours. God values these also ; but He does not 
assign them the same pre-eminence which man assigns them ; 
He does not allow them any pre-eminence over that constant 
and long-enduring struggle with the risings of the natural mind, 
which is evinced in long and steady waiting under all dis- 
couragements for Him, in the assured conviction that He will 
come at last for deliverance and protection, although his chariot 
wheels are so long in coming. 

It requires but little reflection to perceive that the Lord's 
judgment in this matter is better than man's. Active virtue 
brings present reward with it. Apart from the encouraging 
applause it obtains from some — ^more or fewer— it is attended 
with a pleasurable excitation of spirits, in the mere sense of 
action, as well as in the hopes and aspirations connected with 
it. There is nothing of this in mere patient waiting, day 
after day, through long years perhaps — ^and it may be in dust 
and ashes— runtil the Lord shall manifest towards us his love, 
his sympathy^ his care. But to rest thus in the assured con- 
viction that He will do so— to do Him the credit of believing 
that nothing less than this is his intention towards us — ^is a 
tribute rendered by faith to his honour, a tribute which He 
holds in most high esteem, and which He does most abun- 
dantly recompense. This recompense such faith needs ; for it 
is a quality of the Christian character which, as God only can 
truly understand it, finds little encouragement but firom Him. 

196 Nineteenth Week — First Day. 

It receives, less than any other, the outer sustainment of man's 
approval and admiration. 

It is also eminently conducive to the completion of the 
Christian character in its peculiar qualities, to nourish that 
habit of constant looking to the Lord, of constant dependence 
on Him, of vital faith in Him, of constant readiness for Him, 
which is far more precious in his sight than all the gold, frank- 
incense, and myrrh, of which men could make oblation to Him. 
It is therefore no marvel, that this passive form is that chiefly, 
both for their soul's good and for his own honour, in which 
God has in all ages seen fit to exercise his servants, from 
ancient Abraham down to the youngest son of Abraham's 
faith. Let us take comfort and encouragement from these 
most true things. 

Art thou plunged deep into troubles from which the hand of 
man will not or cannot save thee ? or does thy soul lie in the 
deep waters, from which no strength of man can draw thee 
forth ? * Wait on the Lord, and He shall save thee ;'^ and cry 
to Him, ' Thou art the God of my salvation ; on Thee do I 
wait all the day.' * 

Is thy good evil spoken of among men ; and thy name cast 
forth as evil among those who once delighted in thee, but who 
now seek to lay thine honour in the dust ? Fear not. All will 
be right anon. Thy Vindicator lives, and will ere long bring 
thee forth in white robes, free from all the stains that men 
strive to cast upon thee. Remember that thy Lord suffered 
all this and much more for thee. Remember * the Lord is a 
God of judgment. Blessed are aH they that wait for Him." 

There are two bitter enemies of man's true life : the world 
without him, and the world within him — the world in his 
heart. The conflict is sometimes terrible, and thou dost some- 
times feel as one left without strength, and thy hands fail, and 
thy heart grows faint. What is this but to teach thee where 
thy true strength lies, and to cast thee off from every other? 
* Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and He shall 
strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.' * 

* Prov. XX. 22. 2 Ps^ xxY, ^, 3 isa. xxx. 18, * Ps. xxvii. 14. 

China in Scripture. 197 

Sometimes the discouragement is deeper yet. We live under 
the hidings of our Master's face. He seems to have covered 
himself with a thick cloud, which our sight cannot pierce, and 
which our prayers cannot pass through — they fall consciously 
short of their aim, and come back to the diill earth, flat and 
unprofitable. But be of good cheer. This cannot last for ever, 
nor last long. Only * rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for 
Him j' ^ and be assured that * the Lord is good to them that 
wait for Him ;' * and although it may be that now, for a little 
while, thou liest void of strength, and almost lifeless upon the 
ground, yet, amid this chilliness, still wait ; though wounded, 
wait — ^holding fast the conviction which his promise gives. 

* They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength ; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles \ they shall run and 
not be weary \ they shall walk and not faint.' • 

To have waited for the Lord, He allows to constitute a claim 
to his tender consideration for us. * Be gracious to us : we 
have waited for Thee.' * And no one ever yet could truly say, 

* I waited patiently for the Lord,' without being enabled re- 
joicingly to add, ' and He heard my cry.' * And in that day 
of full fruition of all we have waited for, shall we not, out of 
the fulness of our replenished hearts, cry with exulting shouts 
to all that pass by : ' Lo, this is our God ; we have waited for 
Him, and He will save us : this is the Lord ; we have waited 
for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation?'^ 


Was China known to the ancients, — especially, was it known to 
the Jews ; and is there any mention of it in Scripture ? To the 
last question most of our readers will, from their own impression 
or recollection, at once say, * No.* This is, however, less certain 

^ Ps. xxxvii. 7. *Lain. iii. 25. ^Isa. xl. 31. 

* Isa. xxxiii. 2. ^ Ps. xl. i. ^ Isa. xxv. 9. 

1 98 Nineteenth Week — Second Day. 

than appears ; and the question is in fact raised by the text 
before us, in which, speaking of the ultimate gathering of the 
' nations to Christ, it is said : * I will make all my mountains a 
way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall 
come from far; and, lo, these from the north and from the 
west ; and these from the land of Sinim.' 

It has been suggested that the land of Sinim means the land 
of China or of the Chinese; and this notion, which was 
formerly rtgzx^td willi little favour by interpreters, has been 
of late years taken up and warmly advocated on the Continent, 
not only by Biblical scholars, but by comparative philologists, 
whose conclusions must be allowed much weight in such a 
question. We confess that we were once opposed to this 
view, or, rather, did not acquiesce in it ; but on a review of the 
whole subject, with the advantage of later researches, we now 
incline to entertain it with very little hesitation. 

It is dearly intended in this text, to indicate the universal 
extent of this ingathering of nations, by pointmg to the remotest 
quarters in different directions. Still it must be allowed that 
there is some obscurity and difficulty in the mode of indication. 
At the first view, it seems doubtfiil whether more than three 
directions in all are designated ; and then, whether more than 
two, or even one, of these, is distinctly intimated. The north 
is clear enough. The word translated the west is ' the sea,' 
and is therefore not free from uncertainty; but as the sea does 
usually denote the west in all such distributive intimations, 
with reference to the Mediterranean, which lies to the west of 
Palestine, it is needless to suppose that it means an3rthing else 

Having thus two directions, north and west, expressly stated, 
it remains to look for the south and the east. 

It is very clear, that if four quarters of the world, or, rather, 
the four cardinal points, are at all stated, one of them is com- 
prised in * those that comt from far, ^ because this is one of the 
only four terms of indication which the verse contains. It has 
been thought by some, indeed, that this clause is not a single 
item in an enumeration of particulars, but a generic statement 

China in Scripture. 1 99 

comprehending the specific statements that follow. This in- 
terpretation appears to have originated in a wish to give the 
widest meaning that can be afforded to the terms of the pre- 
diction, as against the restricted local application for which 
some have contended. But the interpretation is not required 
to establish this larger meaning, seeing that if one of the four 
quarters is denoted by the phrase * from far,* the idea necessarily 
suggested is, that all the other points enumerated are likewise 
remote. That * from far ' really does stand for one of the points 
of the compass, seems a conclusion warranted by the pro- 
bability, if not the necessity, of the case. When four local 
designations axe given, one of which certainly, another almost 
certainly, and a third (the land of Sinim, in this case) most 
probably, denote particular directions, it is most natural to 
conclude that the fourth is so used likewise, however vague it 
may be in itself as an indication. The presumption thus 
created is confirmed by the fact, that the hypothesis of only 
three divisions admits that the whole earth was meant to be 
included ; and it thus becomes a question, whether it is more 
agreeable to general usage, and that of Scripture in particular, 
to understand a threefold or fourfold division of the earth in 
such connections. If the latter, as is certainly the case, then 
analogy is strongly in lavour of the supposition, that the first 
clause, ' firom far,' is not co-extensive with the others, but 
contains the first of four particulars enumerated. Over and 
above this argument, derived from the usual distinction of four 
points or quarters, there is another furnished by the use of the 
pronoun thescy when repeated so as to express a distributive 
idea. In all such cases, these and these mean some and others; 
nor is there, perhaps, a single instance where the first these 
comprehends the whole, while the others divide it into parts. 
This would be just as foreign fi-om the Hebrew idiom, as it 
would be firom ours, to say, *Some live in Europe, some in 
France, some in Holland ;' when we mean that some live in 
Holland, some in France, and all in Europe. 

From all this it seems to follow, that the verse most probably 
contains the customary distribution of the earth or heayens into 

200 Nineteenth Week — Second Day, 

four great quarters, and that one of them is designated by the 
phrase ' from far.' 

Assuming, therefore, that * from far ' designates one of the 
points of the compass, it remains to inquire what point this is. 
As we have ahready the north and the west, this must be either 
the south or the east Some have contended for the east ; and 
this has been met by the just remark, that ' far ' never does 
mean the «ast, and is not elsewhere used to denote it But it 
seems to have escaped the notice of those who have written on 
the subject, that * from far,' or at least the equivalent expression, 
is used to denote the south in Scripture ; as in our Saviour's 
declaration, * The queen of the south came from the uttermost 
parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon.' We cannot 
go any further in showing that ' far ' denotes the south ; but if 
we can show — and to this we have now narrowed the ques- 
tion — that the land of Sinim is in the east^ the other question is 
settled by the absence of alternatives, and * far ' must stand for 
the south. 

A Canaanitish tribe called the Sinites is named in Genesis 
X. 17 and I Chronicles i. 15 : we have also the wilderness of 
Sin, and the mountains of Sinai : Eg3^t also might possibly be 
called the land of Sinim, from Syene, or from the city of Sin, 
otherwise Pelusium. Accordingly, all these have found advo- 
cates \ but to all of them the objection is open, that they are 
too near at hand to suit the context, whether *from far* be 
taken as a general description or a distinct specification. 

It is to be noted that in the name Sinim the im is merely 
the sign of the Hebrew plural, and the proper name is to be 
sought in Sin as the radical portion of the word. Looking to 
the remote south, there is no nation known to the ancients, nor 
indeed any nation whatever, that bore this name. A place or 
nation giving a name to any point of extreme distance, must 
have been a place or people of importance, for it is only such 
whose name and reputation reach to distant regions. There is 
no such nation in the south ; and eastward, the only country 
important and remote that comes to us with this name is 
China, which is well ascertained to have been first known to 

China in Scripture. 201 

the ancients by the name of Sina ; Sin, Chin, or Jin (with the 
usual termination a added in the case of a country), being 
merely different modes of representing the same word. This is 
certainly a very significant fact ; to many it will seem sufficient 
and conclusive, being, indeed, as strong a piece of evidence as 
exists for the identification of many important ancient names. 
If this be correct, it is encouraging to find China set down by 
name as standing for the extreme east of the old world, and 
prophetically destined to be brought into the blessedness of 
Christ's kingdom. The remoteness of the country is not 
against this interpretation, but in favour of it, under the ex- 
planation of the first term ' firom far ' which has been already 

The statement just made indirectly disposes of many of the 
old objections to this interpretation. The only plausible ones 
that can still be urged may be reduced to two. The first is, 
that China was unknown to the Jews at the date of the pro- 
phecy. To this it may be answered, first, that even if the fact 
were so, no one who believes in the inspiration of the prophets, 
can refuse to admit the possibility of such a prediction, for the 
encouragement of future ages (as in the case of Cyrus); and 
indeed it might be that the peculiar circumstances and seem- 
ingly inaccessible character of that great empire would create 
z. peculiar need for so distinct an intimation, by a name which, 
in our day, the most renowned scholars and critics, holding 
different views of divine inspiration, have with rare exceptions 
agreed must denote China. 

But, secondly, it is not impossible that China was known to 
the Hebrews even at a very early period. If the fleets of 
Solomon penetrated to the shores of India, or to Ceylon, 
nothing is more probable than that the intelligent and inquiring 
supercargoes whom such a king as Solomon would be sure to 
send on his expeditions, may have heard something of the 
great country which lay in the still remoter east. It is hardly 
possible but that they must have made inquiries on the subject, 
if only to bear back to their master some report respecting 
what might seem the utmost eastward bounds of the habitable 

202 Nineteenth Week — Second Day. 

earth. The report would be, that beyond India lay the great 
country of Sin or Sina, beyond which lay the great ocean, and 
that in this direction there was no farther land. Again, some 
knowledge of this country and people may have existed in 
Eg5q)t, and have been thence acquired by the Israelites. In 
the ancient Eg3rpt which the monuments disclose, there is much 
to remind one of China. The type of the civilisation in the 
two countries was essentially the same \ and there was great 
similarity in the habits of life, the arts, implements, and 
utensils. In fact, China is a living Egypt. This powerfully 
suggests that there was some connection between these 
countries, of which nothing is at present known distinctly, but 
which further researches in the ancient lore of China and of 
Egypt may disclose. We do not rely upon the proof for a 
commercial intercourse with Egypt, which some have found in 
the fact, that porcelain vessels with Chinese inscriptions upon 
them have been found in the tombs of ancient Thebes, because 
another mode has been suggested in which these articles may 
have found their way into the tombs. But what we can say is, 
that in the face of all that has within the present century been 
brought to light respecting the knowledge and intercourse of 
ancient nations, it is rash and hazardous to affirm, that in the 
time of Isaiah the Israelites could have had no knowledge of 
China, even by name. And this brings us to the apparently 
formidable objection, that the name Sinim is not that used by 
the Chinese themselves, nor by any other nation, imtil long 
after the date of this prophecy, it having been derived from a 
family that did not ascend the throne until 246 years before the 
birth of Christ. Too much stress has, however, been laid upon 
this dark and dubious tradition of a distant and imknown 
country. The very text before us makes it doubtful; the 
universal prevalence of the name Sin, Chin, or Jin, throughout 
eastern or southern Asia, from time immemorial, presupposes 
an antiquity still more remote ; and Chinese historians them- 
selves record, that for ages before it ruled the empire, the 
family from which the name derives its origin, ruled a province 
or kingdom on the western frontier, whence the name might 

China in Scripture. 203 

easily have been extended to the western nations. There are, 
in fact, few cases of a name being more extensively or longer 
prevalent than that of China, the very form in which it exists 
in Sanscrit, the mother-tongue of south-eastern Asia. That 
the Chinese themselves have never used it, though acquainted 
with it, is nothing to the purpose. A Hebrew writer would of 
course use the name familiar in western Asia, — even as we 
have always called, and so now call Persia, as did also the 
Hebrew writers, by a name which was never in use by the 
inhabitants of the land. 

Upon the whole, then, if any other interpretation be given to 
Sinim, we cannot account for its being placed here as repre- 
senting one of the quarters or divisions of the world. But if it 
mean China, that extreme limit of the eastern world, that hive 
of nations, supposed to comprehend a third part of the human 
race, a natural and consonant interpretation is reached. Even 
to us there would be nothing unintelligible or absurd, however 
strange or novel, in the combination, north, west, south, and 
China. On the whole, then, a h)rpothesis which solves aU 
difficulties, satisfies the claims of philology and history, unites 
the sufirages of the most independent schools and parties, fully 
meets the requisitions of the text and context, and opens a 
glorious field of expectation and effort to the church, may be 
safely regarded as the true one.^ 

^ The principal authorities in support of this view, that Sinim denotes 
China, are Manasseh-ben-Israel, Montanus, Calmet, Gesenius, Winer, 
Manrer, Hitzig, Henderson, Umbreit, Hendewerk, Knobel, Beck, and 
Alexander. The last-named authority, in his Later Prophecies of Isaiah 
(New York, 1847 ; since reprinted in Glasgow, together with the Earlier 
Prophecies^ under the editorial care of the Rev. Dr. Eadie), has given a 
large note on this question (pp. 178-185), on which this day's reading is 
mainly founded, with some additional illustrations and su^estions. Pro- 
fessor Alexander largely examines an article on this question, which appeared 
in the Chinese Repository, from the pen of one of the missionaries. To this 
article we have also referred, and have drawn from it further particulars. 
Besides these, the question has been examined as one of historical and 
literary interest by the most eminent comparative philologists, such as 
Langles, Lassen, and others ; and their conclusions are in support of the 
view that China is really denoted by this name. 

204 Nineteenth Weekr— Third Day. 

"^kmittxd^ SffiUjefe— C^^irb gag* 


When we reflect that our Lord became indeed a man, and, as 
a man, was seen by friends and enemies walking the dusty 
roads and narrow streets of Palestine, there can be no impro- 
priety in trying to realize to ourselves the appearance which 
He, as a man, during his sojourn on earth, presented to the 
eyes of men. That which ordinary human beings were per- 
mitted to behold in the common circumstances of daily life, we 
need not shrink from picturing to our minds. To attempt to 
realize materially to the mental conception, and still more to 
represent in painting or sculpture, the divine Godhead, is a 
different matter from the attempt to depict to the mind Him 
who was * God manifest in the flesh.' While, therefore, we can 
regard without displeasure even paintings in which the Lord 
Jesus is represented in some of the circumstances of his Ijfe on 
earth, we cannot but shrink with dismay from the representa- 
tions of God the Father, and of Christ glorified, which are so 
common abroad, and which, although rarely seen here, are but 
too well known to us by means of engravings. The effect is 
injurious to the mind. Of this we can well judge, from the 
shock we only yesterday received in lighting accidentally upon 
an engraving thus representing the Almighty seated on his 
throne. The work was beautiful ; but a faintness came over 
our spirit, and it was felt as if the soul had received some stain 
in having thus received the impact of an unspiritual idea of God. 
But with regard to the Lord Jesus, the case is, as we have 
said, altogether different ; and so long as the inquiry is con- 
ducted with the reverence due to his sacred and venerable 
person, it is quite allowable, and is indeed natural, to inquire 
in what aspect He appeared among men. In fact, whether we 
like it or not, we do almost unconsciously form to ourselves an 
idea of the person of Christ. It is impossible to read the 
Gospels, containing the history of his life and death, without 

The Person of Jesus Christ. 205 

realizing to ourselves an idea of his appearance, just as we 
do of the appearance of any other historical personage. We 
cannot help doing this ; and it is no sin. These ideal images 
vary, but are more alike than might be supposed, being in a 
great degree founded upon the prints and pictures in which 
our Lord is represented, and which have all a certain resem- 
blance to each other, being founded on traditional descrip- 
tions of no real authority, and on various ancient likenesses 
in medals, gems, pictures, statues — ^all acknowledged to be 

There are in fact certain passages of the prophetical Scrip- 
tures which seem to invite, and have invited, attention to this 
question. Two of them occur in two adjoining chapters of 
Isaiah. No prophecies in the Bible more clearly refer to our 
Lord than those contsjjned in chapters lii. and liii. In the 
former we read (verse 14), ' His visage was so marred more 
than any man, and his form more than the sons of men ;' and 
in the latter (verse 2), ' He hath no form or comeliness ; and 
when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should 
desire Him.' 

This obviously raises the question, Was Jesus distinguished 
among men by the beauty of his person, or otherwise ? We 
have not to inquire what is most pleasant to believe in this 
matter, but what is most probably true. For ourselves, we do 
not know what is * most pleasant ' to believe. When we re- 
flect that, of the men distinguished for personal graces, there 
are few who have taken a leading part in human aifairs, or have 
won high names in the various paths of honour, we hesitate to 
think it more pleasant to contend that our Lord was endowed 
with that beauty which charms the eye. The world, however, 
has generally decided that it is more pleasant ; and therefore 
the prevalent opinion, and that which is likely to remain such, 
ascribes to our Lord gracefulness of personal appearance. 

In support of this view, we are referred to one of the 
Messianic psalms (xlv.), in which Christ is described as * fairer 
than the sons of men 3' and we are reminded that in our Lord's 
birth and bringing up, all the conditions were present which, 

2o6 Nineteenth Week — Third Day. 

under ordinary circumstances, conduce to the perfection and 
beauty of the human form, while all the incidents were absent 
which tend to prevent its most admirable development Some 
ascribe to the winning charm of his aspect the facility with 
which the apostles left all to follow Him ; and infer the solemn 
majesty of his countenance from the facts, that the dealers sub- 
mitted to be driven from the temple by his single hand, and 
that the men who came to apprehend Him in the garden fell 
back, subdued and dismayed, when He confronted them. This, 
in each instance, seems to us a wretchedly (we had almost said 
revoltingly) low ascription to the influence of personal appear- 
ance, of the effect of that divine energy which wrought with 
ELim and in Him as He would, and which doubtless was seen 
in his eyes and heard in his voice, whatever may have been his 
' bodily presence.' The question is not to be decided by such 
considerations ; and the text on which so much reliance is placed 
clearly refers to Christ glorified, and not to Christ in the day 

Besides, in different climates and countries, different ideas 
are entertained of that which constitutes beauty of personal 
appearance ; and what is beautiful in the eyes of one nation, 
is not so in those of another. Thus, if our Lord appeared 
under an aspect of outward beauty, it was doubtless Jewish 
beauty ; and this, although upheld by some as the perfection of 
manly comeliness, is not, we apprehend, generally so regarded 
in western and northern Europe, as is shown by the fact that 
the painters, in their representations of our Lord's person, never 
ascribe to it a Jewish aspect 

Keeping in view this difference in the standard of human 
beauty, it is well that we are left in ignorance regarding the 
exact personal appearance of the founder of a religion destined 
to overspread all the nations of the earth. 

On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the passages in 
Isaiah whicji Tefer to the subject, and which are found in the 
most literal of his prophecies, are altogether unfavourable to 
the idea of the ^lessiah being distinguished for the beauty of 
his visage in the time of his earthly sojourning. The want of 

The Person of Jesus Christ. 207 

this is rather s6t forth as part of his humiliation ; and with it 
that humiliation would scarcely have been complete. If we 
interpret literally the rest of the prophecy, why should this be 
figurative ? May it nqt have been part of the divine plan to 
rebuke the pride of man, and his inordinate appreciation of 
mundane beauty, as it was in the assignment of the chief part 
in the calling of the Gentiles to the fold of Christ, to one 
* whose bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemp- 

The upholders of the literal interpretation of these passages, 
in their application to the person of Christ, remind us that, 
throughout the New Testament, there is no ascription to Him 
of that outward grace and beauty which at once attracts the 
love and regard of man. It is remembered that Mary Magda- 
lene took Him for the gardener after his resurrection; and 
some, comparing this text with that in which Paul describes our 
Lord as having taken on Him * the form of a servant,' urge for 
it also a personal application. It is likewise noted, that the 
evangelists record the circumstances of his transfiguration in 
such a manner as to show that his ordinary appearance to them 
was something very diflferent indeed, and that it was then only, 
and for a moment, that 'He was seen by the three privileged 
disciples as ' fairer than the sons of men.' 

It is fiirther of some importance in our present inquiry, that 
the earliest of the Christian writers, who lived at the time when 
any traditions that existed as to the person of the Lord Jesus 
were comparatively fresh and recent, agree in understanding 
that the humiliation of Christ extended to his personal appear- 
ance ; and indeed we find this used by the early adversaries of 
Christianity as an argument against the divinity of Christ But 
after the first three centuries, this opinion gradually went out ; 
and the notion came to be universally entertained, tliat Jesus 
was distinguished above men by the perfect beauty of his per- 
son. The Jewish commentators saw the advantage this gave 
them ; and one of the most eminent of their number (Abar- 
banel) astutely argues that Jesus of Nazareth could not be the 
one prophesied of by Isaiah, seeing that Christian writers as- 



2o8 Nineteenth Week — Third Day. 

signed to Him this eminence of beauty, whereas the prophet 
declared the direct contrary of the subject of his prophecy. 

Perhaps the right view of this matter would be, that the 
person of our Lord was in no way distinguished for that 
mundane beauty which is always rare among men; but that 
He was not uncomely, save when, as * a man of sorrows and 
acquainted with grief* — ^when, leading a life of hardship, travel, 
and privation — ^when, grieving at the hardness of men's hearts 
— and when, after 

* Cold mountains and the midnight air 
Witnessed the fervour of his prayer,' 

He became haggard and careworn, wan and wasted, affording 
visible evidence of the weight of that great burden which, for 
man's sake, He had consented to bear. But as we see among 
men, that the power of soul, of mind — the expression of good- 
ness, greatness, or holy hope — irradiates, refines, exalts, and 
imparts an unutterable charm to countenances far more ordi- 
nary than can be supposed to have belonged to the Saviour, 
how much more must the fact and consciousness of divinity 
in Him have shone forth in his eyes, have given intense ex- 
pression to his countenance, and commanding power to his 
words, diffusing about his person and his manner something 
more than the beauty which dwells in flesh, or even than that 
which the soul can impart to the human countenance — some- 
thing unseen before on earth, in man or angel ! Even in man, 
the conscious possession of power willingly restrained, of glory 
consentingly obscured, will impart an indescribable grandeur 
to the countenance and demeanour. What, then, must have 
been the aspect of Him who was the very * King of glory ' — ^for 
whose triumphal entry heaven longed to open its everlasting 
gates, and whose power was still such, that not only would 
'twelve legions of angels' have gathered around Him at his 
asking, but his word would- have sufficed to shake the fabric 
of the universe I 

Stone-Pillar Worship. 209 


This text is one of several in the Bible which refer to the 
worship of unshapen stones set up. The prophet, speaking of 
the abominations of idolatry, says : 'Among the smooth stones 
of the stream is thy portion : they, they are thy lot ; even to 
them hast thou poured a drink-oflfering, thou hast offered a 
meat-offering. Should I receive comfort in these?' It is a 
diflftcult text to translate ; and we question whether it has here 
been translated quite correctly. But this does not matter for 
our present purpose, as the practice to which the text, as here 
translated, refers, is as strongly indicated in other parts of 

The earliest intimations of this form of idolatry, which exist 
in Scripture, describe it as subsisting among the Canaanites. 
The Hebrews were repeatedly enjoined to destroy these stone 
idols of the Canaanites, to overthrow their altars, and * break 
their pillars.'^ And when the Israelites themselves, in their 
aberrations, were tempted to imitate these customs, Moses 
points a sarcasm at their delusion: * Where are their gods, 
their rock in whom they trusted? How could one chase a 
thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their 
rock had sold them?'* This seems to have been the earliest 
form in which terrene bodies became objects of idolatry. 
Before men discovered the use of metals, or the method of 
cutting rocks, they worshipped these unhewn stones, pre- 
ferring, probably, those of a shape fit to be set on end, to 
be the more conspicuous, and smoothed by the action of 
water; and if the authority of Sanchoniathon is to be ac- 
cepted, they consecrated pillars to the fire and to the wind, 
before they learned to hunt, to fish, or to harden bricks in the 
sun. From Usous, *the first Phoenician,' as he is styled by 
the same authority, the Canaanites seem to have acquired the 

' Deut. vii. 5, xii. 3. * Deut. xxxii. 30, 37, 


2IO Nineteenth Week — Fourth Day. 

practice of stone-pillar worship, traces of which, historical or 
actual, are to be found in almost every country of the old 
world ; and in none more than in this the western extremity 
of Europe, particularly in Cornwall, and in the islands and 
promontories from the Land's End to Caithness. 

We must not confound these, as some do, with the simple 
stones of memorial, such as Jacob set up at Bethel,^ or those 
which the Israelites set up at Gilgal,* and the one placed by 
Joshua at Shiloh.^ Indeed, in the second instance, all suspicion 
of superstitious taint or heathen imitation is {)recluded by the 
act being done by divine command. It is, however, observable, 
that in this instance the «tones were taken from the bed of the 
river, by the action of whose waters they had doubtless been 
smoothened, and therefore, in this single respect, oflfer a 
curious analogy to the * smooth stones of the stream * in the 
present text. It may also be conceded, that stones originally 
set up for memorial purposes, may, in the course of time, have 
become objects of such superstitious regard, as not to be dis- 
tinguishable from those of the other class which were even in 
their origin idolatrous. 

The worship of erected stones has maintained its ground, in 
some kind of superstitious reverence or other, to a much later 
period than is usually imagined. In Cornwall, which may have 
derived it directly from the Phoenicians, it did not cease tiU 
several centuries after the introduction of Christianity. Borlase, 
in his Antiquities of Cornwall^ says : * After Christianity took 
place, many continued to worship these stones, coming hither 
with lighted torches, and praying for safety and success ; and 
this custom we can trace through the fifth and sixth centuries, 
and even into the seventh, as will appear from the prohibition 
of several councils.' 

Scheflfer, in his Description of Lapland in 1673, states that the 
practice of stone-pillar worship then existed there, and that 
Stoijunkar, one of the deities of Scandinavian mythology, was 
'represented by a stone. Neither do they use any art in 
polishing it, but take it as they find it upon the banks of lakes 

* Gen. xxviii. 18, 22. 2 jQghua iv. 5-9. 3 Joshua xxiv. 26. 

Stone-Pillar Worship. 211 

and rivers. In this shape they worship it as his image, and 
call it Kied kie jumbal^ that is, the stone god^ He adds, that 
they select the unhewn stone, because it is the form in which 
it was shaped by the hand of the Creator himself. This, again, 
offers a curious coincidence with the text in Isaiah. 

To come nearer, Martin, in his very curious account of the 
Western Islands of Scotland in 1703, describes repeatedly 
numerous pillar-stones, which were then objects of respect in 
the several localities ; and in one instance he states, that an 
image, which was held in veneration in one of the islands, 
was swathed in linen. Speaking of the island of Eriska, to 
the north of Barra, Martin says : * There is a stone set up to 
the south of St. Columbus' Church, about eight feet high and 
two broad. It is called by the natives the bowing stone; for 
when the inhabitants had the first sight of the church, they set 
up this stone, and then bowed, and said the Lord's Prayer.' 
Borlase, who notices this passage in his Antiquities of Cornwall^ 
gives a more learned derivation of the name. He says : * They 
call them bowing stones, as it seems to me from the reverence 
shown them; for the Eben Maschit, which the Jews were 
forbade to worship — Lev. xxvi. i : " Neither shall ye set up 
any image of stone " — signifies really a bowing stone; and was 
doubtless so called, because worshipped by the Canaanites.' 

In all parts of Ireland, stone pillars are to be found in com- 
parative frequency. A writer in the Archceologia of the Society 
of Antiquaries for 1800, remarks, that many of the stone crosses 
which form so beautiful and interesting a feature of Irish an- 
tiquities, were originally pagan pillar-stones, on which the 
cross was sculptured subsequent to the introduction of Chris- 
tianity, in order that *■ the common people, who were not to be 
easily diverted firom their superstitious reverence of these stones, 
might pay a kind of justifiable adoration to them, when thus 
appropriated to the use of Christian memorials by the sign of 
the cross.' 

'Justifiable adoration' indeed! But it seems very remark- 
able, that in at least one part of Ireland, a kind of adoration, 
not even in this degree 'justifiable,' is still, in this enlightened 

212 Nineteenth Week — Fourth Day. 

nineteenth century, rendered to a stone. In a work by the 
Earl of Roden, recently published, entitled, Progress of the 
Reformaticn in Ireland^ there occurs a curious account of a 
remnant of this ancient form of fetichism, still existing at In- 
niskea, an island off the coast of Mayo, with about 380 inhabi- 
tants ; among whom, he sajrs, * A stone, carefully wrapped up 
in flannel (like that mentioned by Martin), is brought out at 
certain periods to be adored ; and when a storm arises, this 
god is supplicated to send a wreck on their coast' The same 
volume contains a letter from a correspondent, who states that, 
' though nominally Roman Catholics, these islanders have no 
priest resident among them ; they know nothing of the tenets 
of that church ; and their worship consists in occasional meet- 
ings at their chiefs house (an intelligent peasant of the name 
of Cain), with visits to a holy well called Deri via. The absence 
of religion is supplied by the open practice of pagan idolatry. 
In the south island a stone idol, called in the Irish Neevougij 
has from time immemorial been religiously preserved and wor- 
shipped. Of the early history of this idol no authentic infor- 
mation can be procured, but its power is believed to be 
immense : they pray to it in time of sickness ; it is invoked 
when a storm is desired to dash some hapless ship upon their 
coast ', and, again, it is solicited to calm the waves to admit of 
the islanders fishing or visiting the mainland.' 

This is certainly a startling intimation ; and it would, as Sir 
J. Emerson Tennent suggests,^ be an object of curious inquiry 
to ascertain whether this be indeed the last relic of pillar- 
worship now remaining in Europe, and especially whether any 
further trace of it is to be found in any other portion of the 
British dominions. The stones themselves, we know, exist in 
abundance ; but are there remaining instances of superstitious 
regard being paid to them ? 

^ In a communication, of which the above is (with some additional facts) 
mainly an abstract, inserted in the No. for February 7, 1852, of a meri- 
torious literary publication, called Notes and Queries, 

Jeremiak. 213 


Four miles north-east of Jerusalem we at this day find a poor 
village called Anata. In this we recognise the ancient Ana- 
thoth, one of the towns allotted to the priests, and the name 
of which occurs repeatedly in Scripture. Mean as the place is 
now^ it was then a walled tow^ ; and its ruins still afford some 
traces of its ancient importance. 

Here was bom the prophet Jeremiah, and this was the place 
of his usual residence ; the near neighbourhood of which to 
Jerasalem sufficiently explains his frequent appearance in the 
metropolis, the distance being no more than an easy morning 

He was a priest, and his father's name was Hilkiah. He 
commenced his prophetic ministry when very young, in the 
time of king Josiah ; and as the high priest, who found the 
book of the law in that reign, bore the name of Hilkiah, some 
have thought that Jeremiah was his son. But there is no other 
foundation for this opinion than the name, which was a com- 
mon one among the Jews ; and if the father of Jeremiah had 
really been high priest, the fact would, in all probability, have 
been indicated when he was mentioned 

The extreme youth of Jeremiah, at the time of his call to the 
high and perilous office which he was to hold, is shown by the 
length of the period during which he exercised its functions, 
and also by the pleas of youth and incapacity which he mo- 
destly urged, when the voice of the Lord appointed him to be 
*a prophet unto the nations.' Smitten by the sense of the 
solemn duties which this commission imposed, his gentle 
nature shrank from them, as unsuited to his degree of strength; 
and he cried with deep emotion, ' Ah, Lord God ! behold, I 
cannot speak, for I am a child.' But when he was shown 
that the strength in which he was to speak and act was not 
his own, and that he might always reckon upon supplies of 

214 Nineteenth Week — Fifth Day. 

grace and strength to discharge the high duties to which he 
was called, he no longer sought to evade them ; and although 
the influence of his natural temper breaks out at times in com- 
plaints that he, of all men most unsuited, as he thought, had 
been chosen for the place he filled, and in sighings for that 
retired and peacefiil life he must know no more, he fulfilled 
its tasks with unremitting diligence and unswerving fidelity for 
at least forty-two years, reckoning from the thirteenth year of 
king Josiah. In the course of his ministry he met with much 
opposition and ill-treatment from his countrymen of all classes, 
especially of the highest. The exigencies of the times con- 
strained him, as the commissioned prophet of the Lord, to take 
a part in, or rather to exercise an important influence upon, 
the public policy of his country ; and the part he took, though 
based on the most enlarged views of true patriotism, and on 
the most exact apprehension of the nation's only safe and wise 
course in the circumstances, was offensive to its natural pride ; 
and the great ones, seeing how adverse his counsels were to 
their own plans of aggrandisement, affected to discredit his 
mission, and strove to destroy his influence. His keen sus- 
ceptibility to injustice and misconstruction — ^his deep sense of 
the wickedness, perversity, and ungodliness of men — his con- 
sciousness that the leaders of the people were, with wilful 
blindness, hurrying the nation with headlong speed to its ruin 
— together with the painful perception of the unpopularity to 
which his faithfiil denunciations exposed him, and the general 
dislike with which he was regarded, — all this occasionally drew 
from him, in the bitterness of his soul, expressions which some 
have found it hard to reconcile with his religious principles and 
his near intercourse with Heaven ; but which, considered with 
due regard to his natural temper and all the circumstances of 
his position, will be found far more to demand our pity than 
our censure. Nay, there is none of the prophets with whom 
we contract an acquaintance so close and sympathizing, by 
virtue of those very indications of the natural temper and 
spirit of the man, which are permitted to ripple the surface of 
his prophetic career, and which enable us to recognise, in 

yeremiah. 215 

one so gifted from Heaven, a man and a brother. The cries 
by which he attests the frequent anguish of his spirit, find a 
response in our hearts. We pity him, feel for him, love 
him. This is more than can be said with regard to Isaiah, 
whose prophetic rapture more absorbed the individual man, and 
left no room for any otlier feelings towards him than those of 
admiration and awe; whereas Jeremiah enlists our personal 
interest by his starts of natural passion, and speaks to our hearts 
in his wails of human pain. Hear him : * Woe is me, my 
mother, that thou hast bom me a man of strife and a man of 
contention to the whole earth ! I have neither lent on usury, 
nor men have lent to me on usury ; yet every one of them 
doth curse me.' ^ And thus he expostulates with his Lord : 
* As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow 
Thee : neither have I desired the woeful day ; Thou knowest : 
that which came out of my lips was right before Thee. Be not 
a terror unto me,' he fearfully adds ; but instantly he rises 
from this prostration of spirit, and with holy confidence ex- 
claims, * Thou art my hope in the day of evil.' * Sometimes 
the outbursts of his mental agony are awful : * Cursed be the 
day wherein I was bom : let not the day wherein my mother 
bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings 
to my father, saying, ' A man-child is bom unto thee, making 
him very glad, . . . Wherefore came I forth out of the 
womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be con- 
sumed with shame ?' ' Sometimes he goes so far as to purpose 
in his heart that he will no longer deliver those utterances 
which bring so much trouble upon him ; but he then finds that 
he lies under a constraining necessity superior to his own will : 
— * I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any 
more in his name : but his word was in my heart as a burning 
fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and 
I could not stay.' And what was the cause of this deep dis- 
couragement ? He does not leave us in the dark as to this : 
he tells us that he had * heard the defaming of many, fear on 
every side. . . . My familiars watched for my halting, 
1 Jer. XV. 10. *Jer. xvii. 1 6, 17. ^Jer. xx. 14, 15, 18. 

2 1 6 Nineteenth Week — Fifth Day. 

saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail 
against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.' This was 
well suited to dismay a man of Jeremiah's temper; but he 
again speedily comes back to his trust in God : * But the 
Lord is with me.' With him as what ? — ' as a mighty terrible 
One' ^ — terrible to the adversaries of his servants, and to the 
opposers of his word. 

It is possible that, on some occasion, Jeremiah had, under 
the influence of such feelings as he so often expresses, been 
tempted to soften or to suppress some part of a message en- 
trusted to him, deeming it likely to excite that violent anta- 
gonism which was grievous to his peaceful temper. The man 
who had confessedly purposed not to speak at all, might think 
of withholding part of the words he was commanded to speaL 
This supposition would give added force to the injunction 
which, on one occasion, he received : — * Speak aU the words 
that I command thee to speak imto them. Diminish not a 
word^^ So here also he found that there was no discretion 
left to him. 

In the Lamentations, the same prophet speaks generally in 
the person of afflicted Zion ; but we still recognise the man 
Jeremiah, and trace his own experiences, and the tone of his 
own mind. We must not multiply instances. Here is one: 
' I called upon thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon. 
Thou hast heard my voice ; hide not thine ear at my breathing, 
at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon 
Thee : Thou saidst, Fear not.' " 

Jeremiah's lot was cast in the most troublous and trying times of 
Jewish history. This fact may in a great measure account for occa- 
sional fretfulness of temper, and despondency of tone. His office 
was not only a thankless, but a dangerous one ; and his solenm 
warnings, though coming direct from heaven, were disregarded, and 
sometimes even resented, by an infatuated people. His keenly sen- 
sitive heart is often torn by the follies and crimes of the rulers of 
Israel ; and his exalted patriotism is sadly wounded by the manifest 
waning of the nation's glory, and by the departure of all hope of 
1 Jer. XX. 9-1 1. ajgr. xxvi. 2. ^Laxn. iil 55-57. 

yeremidh. 217 

reform, or even of deliverance from utter ruin. The very commission 
he received from God to convey to the king was turned into a charge 
against him, and he was thrown into prison as a traitor. His posi- 
tion and his sufferings have been well sketched by Stanley: — * It might 
be said of Jeremiah, even more than of St Paul, that, in spite of 
those numerous friends, for the greater part of his mission he " had 
no man like-minded with him." From the first moment of his call, 
he was alone, amidst a hostile world. The nation was against him. 
In the day when he uttered his lament over Josiah, he lost his last 
hope in the house of Judah. From that hour the charm of the 
royal line of David was broken ; the institution which had of itself 
sustained the monarchy had lost its own vital power. The nobles 
were exasperated against him by his fearless rebukes of their 
oppression and luxury. Most of all, he was hated and cursed — ^the 
bitterest trial, in every time — ^by the two sacred orders to which he 
himself belonged. He was one of those rare instances in the 
Jewish history, in which priest and prophet were combined ; and by 
a singularly tragical fate, he lived precisely at that age in which 
both of these great institutions seemed to have reached the utmost 
point of degradation and corruption ; — both, after the trials and 
vicissitudes of centuries, in the last extremity of the nation of which 
they were the chief supports, broke down and failed. Between the 
priesthood and the prophets there had hitherto been more or less of 
a conflict ; but now the conflict was exchanged for a fatal union — " a 
wonderful and horrible thing was committed in the land ; the pro- 
phets prophesied falsely, and the priests bore rule by their means ; 
and the people loved to have it so ;" and he who by each of his call- 
ings was naturally led to sympathize with both, was the doomed 
antagonist of both — victim of one of the strongest of human pas- 
sions, the hatred of priests against a priest who attacks his own 
order ; the hatred of prophets against a prophet who ventures to 
have a voice and a will of his own. His own village of Anathoth, 
occupied by members of the sacred tribe, was for him a nest of con- 
spirators against his life. Of him, first in the sacred history, was 
the saying literally fulfilled, '' A prophet hath no honour in his own 
birthplace.'" 1 

Jeremiah's character is also well drawn by the same graphic pen : 
— * Of all the prophets, Jeremiah is the most retiring, the most 
plaintive, the most closely compassed with ordinary human weak- 
nesses. The cry which he uttered, as the dark truth first broke 

^ Jewish Churchy ii. 519. 

2i8 Nineteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

upon his young mind, was characteristic of his whole career : "0 
Lord ! I cannot speak ; I am but a child." It is this childlike 
tenderness which adds force to the severity of his denunciations, to 
the bitterness of his grief. His was not one of those stem charac- 
ters which bears, without repining, the necessary evils of life. He 
who was to be hard as brass and strong as iron, who had to look 
with unmoved countenance on the downward descent of his country, 
yet longed that his " head were waters, and his eyes a fountain of 
tears, that he might weep day and night for the daughter of his 
people." He whose task was to run to and fro through the streets 
of Jerusalem, like the Grecian sage, to see if he could find a single 
honest man, — to live, as it were, in the market-place as a butt of 
scorn, alike from the religious and irreligious world, was by his own 
nature and inclination, the prophet of the desert, longing for a lodge 
in some vast wilderness, that he might leave his people, and avoid 
the sight of their crimes.' 

ItinttcHif^ Meed— SSirf^ gag. 


It is clearly the view proposed to us in the prophecies of 
Jeremiah, that the state of the land in regard to fertility 
depended on the conduct of the people. This is in strict 
conformity with the principle laid down in the law of Moses; 
but there is no sacred writer by whom this principle is so 
pointedly applied, as by Jeremiah. It is he who estimates the 
duration of the captivity which he foretold by the number of 
sabbatic years, in which the land had not been allowed its 
appointed rest.' But a less noticed, though scarcely less 
striking, instance occurs in the third chapter, where, after 
animadverting on the offences and aberrations of the people, 
lie says; 'Theiefore the showers have been withholden, and 
there hath been no latter rain.' 

Writers and travellers have laboured to explain, from the 
present state of tlie country and climate, what we must under- 
stand by the scriptural designations of the early and the latter 
I 2 ChroD. xxxvi. zi. 

The Latter Rain. 219 

rains. But it seems not to have occurred to them, that ' the 
latter rain,' which we know to have been formerly essential to 
the beauty of the country and the fruitfulness of the seasons, 
may have been altogether withholden; and hence the com- 
parative barrenness and sterility in which the land now lies, 
and which, for the most part, give to it an aspect but little in 
accordance with the ancient accounts of its teeming productive- 
ness and delightful richness. It is usual to account for this by 
the reduced population, and the neglect of culture. Something 
may be allowed for these ; but they will not account for all the 
diflference. They may be the effect rather than the cause. It 
may be that cultivation is kept down (and consequently the 
population also), from some disadvantageous change in the 
conditions of the climate and the seasons. If, for the offences 
of the people, the latter rain was withholden in the time of 
Jeremiah, why should it not be so now, for those offences 
which have rendered the people outcasts in other lands ? This 
condition in which the country should lie, is not obscurely 
prophesied ; and is, besides, constantly implied in those pre- 
dictions of the eventual restoration of the ancient fertility, 
which place it among the prospects of a happy future. 

Indeed, when we compare the passage before us with that 
remarkable text wherein * the rain in its due season, the first 
and the latter rain,' ^ are made contingent on the faithfulness of 
the people, the fact assumes the relation of cause and effect ; 
and if it appears that there has been any intermission of these 
rains, we can be at no loss regarding the conclusion we should 

This is a question of fact ; and respecting it, we have as 

competent testimony as we could desire — that of Mr. Low- 

thian, who went to Palestine, under some religious impressions 

^ * And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my com- 
mandments, which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, 
and to serve Him with all your heart, and with all your soul, that I will give 
you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, 
that thou mayest gather in thy com, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I 
will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.' 
— ^Deut. xi. 13-15. 

220 Nineteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

with reference to that country, with the view of making agri- 
cultural experiments, or of forming an agricultural settlement 
in Lebanon. This piurpose necessarily gave such special 
directness to his observation on the physical conditions of the 
climate, the seasons, and the soil, as renders his testimony 
on the subject of far more value than the notices of passing 

* As I travelled from Jaffa to Jerusalem,' he sajrs, * over some 
as fine soil as could be found anywhere, I did not see so much 
as one single blade of grass. This, to me, seemed very strange, 
for I knew that in England grass will grow where nothing else 
will ; and here, neither among the fine stubble fields, nor even 
along the roadside, where no plough comes, was to be foimd so 
much as might, with strict propriety, be called a blade of grass. 
This is something very astonishing. Not having seen this 
taken notice of in any book of travels that I have read, I can- 
not help thinking, that surely I must be the first English farmer 
who has paid a visit to this land. Upon my arrival at Jerusalem, 
and perceiving that all the milk that was brought into the dty 
in one day, for about 24,000 inhabitants, did not exceed ten or 
twelve quarts — and that even that small quantity was only goat's 
milk well watered, — and that I could find no honey, but a 
small piece which I had the pleasure of tasting while taking tea 
with the bishop's chaplain, I could not but exclaim to myself. 
How completely have God's judgments been executed on this 
devoted land ! And most clearly did I perceive that the natural 
cause of all this evil was the want of seasonable rain. Rain, 
which waters the earth, and blesses it with fertility, God has 
withheld, and thus brought all these evils, and many more 
which I need not stay to emunerate, upon the land which 
" flowed with milk and honey."' 

This view of the case Mr Lowthian substantiates by a parti- 
cular and very interesting explanation. The ' former rain* he 
considers to be the winter rain : and this, he states, * is so un- 
certain, that it sometimes does not come before January, in 
consequence of which water becomes so exceedingly scarce 
and dear, that the inhabitants are put to great inconvenience 

The Latter Rain. 221 

and loss. And as neither planting nor sowing can be pro- 
ceeded with until the rain makes the earth soft, the harvest is 
thrown back, for it is mostly in March or April that the crop is 
gathered in. After that the latter rain used to come, by which 
it is more than probable, nay, almost certain, that a second 
crop was produced ; btU the latter rain is now entirely withheld^ 
and none is ever expected to fall in the time of summer. On 
this account the best part of the year is lost ; and no vegetable 
can grow or keep alive, but those plants whose roots penetrate 
deep into the earth. It is well known to farmers, that if grass- 
seed were carried from England and sown in that land, the very 
first summer would kill the whole of it. To such a well-known 
fact I appeal as a corroboration of my view respecting the with- 
holding of the latter rain. God has, as it were, turned the key 
upon the refreshing and fructifying bounties of the skies. He 
has commanded the clouds that they rain no more upon the 
inheritance of his disobedient people. The latter rain is with- 
held, and with it the grass of the field, which, being lost to the 
cattle, the milk is consequently taken away. Neither can the 
flowers, from which the industrious bee extracts honey, blow 
and jdeld their sweets. All these are evils resulting from the 
want of sufficient rain.' 

~ With reference to the hills and mountains, the desolation of 
which is still more striking, and has caused many a writer to 
say, 'Is it possible that these bare rocks should ever have 
been covered with grass?' Mr Lowthian remarks, that these 
rocky moimtains take up the greater part of the land, and he 
cannot believe that the plains, let them be shown to be ever so 
fertile, could )deld sustenance sufficient for the great number of 
inhabitants once supported in the land ; and it appears to him, 
that here also the taking away of the latter rain from these 
mountains would make them just what they are : * As, for in- 
stance, if any of the high mountains in Cumberland, which are 
covered with grass from the top to the bottom, were placed 
under a hot burning sun from April to November, the conse- 
quence would be, that all the grass would be killed, as well as 
every other plant whose roots do not penetrate very deep. 

222 Nineteenth Week — Sixth Day. 

The grass being taken away, there would be nothing by which 
the soil might be bound or kept together ; so that it would be, 
when thus pulverized, easily blown away by the high winds, and 
washed down into the valleys or into the sea by heavy rains. 
This being repeated year after year, the bare rock would soon 
become visible, and at last this grass-bearing mountain would 
be brought into the very state in which the rocky elevations of 
the Holy Land now are. But as we are taught to believe, from 
the word of God, that these mountains are again to be clothed 
with grass, it may be a question of doubt with some, How is it 
to be brought about, and how are they to be again covered 
with soil ? To this I answer, that it requires no other miracle 
than the restoration of the rain in its due season ; for let these 
hills and mountains only receive a regular moistening with the 
rain, and, situated as they are under a fine warm climate, they 
would soon begin to present signs of something like vegetation; 
and that vegetation, taking hold of the rock with its roots, 
would preserve it from being blown or washed away ; and the 
blade or leaf dying or rotting upon the place, would soon 
create a rich and fertile soil.* 

I do not agree in the views here stated regarding the latter rain. 
A residence of nine years in Palestine, and a careful comparison of 
the Biblical and historical records of its climate, with the results of 
my own observations, led me to the conclusion, that no such change 
as that above indicated has taken place. In Palestine the autumnal 
rains commence about the end of October. In Lebanon they are 
a month earlier. They are usually accompanied by thunder and 
lightning (Jer. x. 13). They continue during two or three dajrs at a 
time, not constantly, but fdling chiefly in the night ; then there is 
an interval of sunny weather. The quantity of rain in October is 
smalL The next four months may be called the rainy season ; but 
even during them the fall is not continuous for any lengthened 
period, but the showers are often extremely heavy. In April, rain 
falls at intervals ; in May, the showers are less frequent and lighter, 
and at the close of that month they cease altogether. No rain falls 
in June, July, August, or September, except on occasions so rare as 
to cause not merely surprise, but alarm ; and not a cloud is seen in 
the heavens as large as a man's hand. The harvests are thus reaped 

Hewing Down Trees. 223 

and gathered in, and the com trodden out on the threshing-floors 
without the fear or even the thought of rain. And it is manifest 
that no radical change has taken place in this respect. Boaz of old 
slept on his threshing-floor, as village sheikhs do still ; and rain and 
thunder were as rare and remarkable during harvest in the time of 
Samuel as they would be at this day (i Sam. xii. 16-18). The rain- 
fall all over Palestine has unquestionably diminished ; but there is 
abundant evidence that neither the early (October) nor the latter 
rain (March and April) has been entirely withheld. 


It is observable, that in predicting military operations against 
Jerusalem or other places, the processes described are always 
in conformity with the usages of the foreseen besiegers, and not 
with those of the Jews themselves. This extends even to the 
weapons and the personal appearance of the besiegers, and to 
their distinctive national characters, although these are facts 
which often could not well have been known from ordinary in- 
formation, by those who gave the descriptions and uttered the 
prophecies. This we have repeatedly had occasion to show in 
our Readings in Isaiah ; and it will often again come under our 

It will be observed, that the military proceedings to which 
chiefly the prophecies of Jeremiah have reference, are those of 
the Babylonians — whose usages, at least in war, are now less 
known to us than those of any other great foreign nation men- 
tioned conspicuously in Scripture, — from the connection of their 
history with that of the Jews. We know, indeed, more of the 
Babylonians historically than of the Assyrians and the Persians, 
though less than of the Egyptians; but this knowledge has 
reference chiefly to their political history and their social institu- 
tions and condition, whereas the sculptures which have been 
found in the palaces and temples of the other nations bring their 
warriors bodily before us, acquaint us with the details of their 

224 Nineteenth Week — Seventh Day. 

military proceedings, and disclose to us all the circumstances 
of regal life. This is an advantage for the illustration of Scrip- 
ture, in which these nations are brought before us under those 
veiy aspects — as warriors, invaders, besiegers — ^which the nations 
themselves have delighted to record, and which nations do still 
delight to record, in their marbles. It suggests some painful 
reflections, that the art whose monuments are the most endur- 
ing has been, and is still, mainly consecrated to the registration 
of man's strife with man, and his homicidal violence against his 
brother ; and the people of future times may dig up out of the 
mounds of ruin which may then mark the sites where the 
great cities of Europe now flourish, monuments of the same 
essential purpose and character as those which we now dis- 
cover among the remains of the world's ancient capitals. Man 
has been in all times anxious to record the fulfilment of the 
provision which the archangel is, by the poet, represented as 
affording to the first of men ; 

* For in those days might only shall be admired, 
And valour and heroic virtue call'd. 
To overcome in battle, and subdue 
Nations, and bring home spoils, with infinite 
Manslaughter, shall be hdd the highest pitch 
Of human glory ; and for glory done 
Of triumph, to be styled great conquerors, 
Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of gods ; 
Destroyers rightlier called, and plagues of men. 
Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth ; 
And what most merits fame, in silence hid.' — 

Paradise Losi^ b. zL 

These old sculptures do now, however, in the providence of 
God, subserve purposes but little contemplated by those who 
caused them to be wrought as monuments of their own great- 
ness. They serve to illustrate the Scripture, and to confirm its 
truth and authority against all gainsayers, by fiimishing the 
pictorial realities of written facts and descriptions, and thus 
evincing the minute accuracy of the sacred writers; by en- 
abling us to perceive that the condition of the ancient contem- 
porary nations was such as these writers describe ; by making 

Hewing Down Trees, 225 

dear to our apprehension matters that were formerly obscure, 
in consequence of our imperfect knowledge of ancient times ; 
and by the record of facts which have already helped much, 
and, it may be hoped, will soon help much more, to the under- 
standing of some parts of the Scripture narrative ;— rthus alto- 
gether adding materially to the constantly increasing stores of 
information which, from year to year, gather around the Bible, 
and render that divine book, unlike all others, the more intel- 
ligible and the better understood the older it becomes. 

We have said that Babylon is, in a great measure, an excep- 
tion to this statement, especially as regards military affairs. 
But we are strongly persuaded that this will not much longer 
be the case. The mounds of Babylon probably hold in their 
womb monuments and records no less important, perhaps more 
important, than those which have, after thousands of years, been 
discovered in the mounds of Nineveh; and we confidently 
expect that many years will not pass before they also are made 
to yield up their hidden treasures for the illustration of the 
sacred volume. Meanwhile, we must be content to believe, as 
is in every way probable, from the near neighbourhood and close 
connection of the two places and nations, that their usages in 
public life, in matters of state and of war, were exceedingly 
similar, if not quite identical ; and that hence the sculptures of 
Nineveh may be safely and freely cited, to illustrate the Baby- 
lonian customs and practices, which the sacred historians and 
prophets bring under our notice. 

More than one instance for which this process is available 
occurs in the sixth chapter of Jeremiah. In the sixth verse, 
the prophet, referring to the future siege of Jerusalem by the 
Babylonians, says: *Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount 
against Jerusalem.* In all ancient sieges, even in those con- 
ducted by the Jews themselves, so early as the time of Moses, 
trees in the neighbourhood of the besieged cities were unspar- 
ingly cut down by the besiegers, to aid in filling up ditches, 
and in the construction of mounds and embankments, and of 
towers and military engines. It is, however, a beautiful inci- 
dent in the law of Moses, that the destruction of fruit-trees 

VOL. VI. p 

2 26 Nineteenth Week — Seventh Day, 

for any such purpose is strongly interdicted.* The importance 
of this is felt, when we recollect how much larger a propor- 
tion of man's subsistence than in our climates is in the East 
derived from fruit-bearing trees; whence the destruction of 
such trees is, among the Syro-Arabian nations, regarded as 
something of a sacrilege. It is related that, in one of his 
wars, Mohammed cut down the date-trees of the Beni Nadi (a 
tribe of Jews in Arabia). This act must have been viewed 
with abhorrence even by his own followers; for he found it 
advisable to produce a pretended revelation from heaven 
sanctioning the deed: 'This revelation came down: What 
palm-trees ye cut down, or left standing on their roots, were 
so cut down or left by the will of God, that He might disgrace 
the evil-doers.'* Plutarch ^a.y% there was a similar regulation 
against the destruction of fruit-trees among the Egyptians ; and 
this is so far confinned, that we do not find any fruit-trees 
among those which are represented as hewn down in military 
operations. Other nations were less scrupulous, and among 
them the Assyrians (and, doubtless, the Babylonians also); for 
in at least one instance we have noticed a palm-tree being cut 
down outside the walls of a besieged city. Perhaps this may 
impart an emphasis to the mention of the hewing down of 
trees here by the prophet; and we incline to think it may 
be still more distinctly alluded to in Isaiah vii. 19, where, the 
wasting of foreign invaders being represented under the s)anbol 
of flies and bees (with a special reference in the latter to the 
Assyrians), it is said, in conclusion, that they shall rest (destruc- 
tively) upon *all thorns, and upon all bushes,' — which latter 
term is, in the margin, rendered by ' commendable trees,' and 
is generally taken to mean cultivated trees, that is, fruit-trees, 

^ * Wlien thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it 
to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against 
them ; for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cat them, down (for 
the tree of the field is man's life), to employ them in the si^e ; Only the 
trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy 
and cut them down ; and thou shalt build bulwarks against tlie city that 
maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.' — Deut xx. 19, 20. 

2 JCoran, chap. lix. Mischai til Masabih. 

Hewing Down Trees. 227 

as distinguished from wild timber-trees. Barnes translates it 
by * shrubbery of pleasure,' to which we somewhat demur, 
though rather to the term than to the essential signification. 

In respect to this hewing down of trees, as indeed in every 
other reference, the prophetic denunciation has been remark- 
ably accomplished at Jerusalem, the neiighbourhood of which 
had become so entirely divested of trees in the course of the 
successive sieges to which it had been exposed, that the later 
besiegers had to fetch from a long distance the timber required. 
Josephus expressly records the destruction of trees by the 
Romans, — Titus, indeed, commencing his proceedings by level- 
ling all the orchards and gardens between the bill Scopas and 
the city, to clear the ground for his operations. No doubt 
this was repeated in subsequent sieges. Certain it is, that 
when the Crusaders under Godfrey commenced their siege, 
no timber could be found for the construction of their engines. 
William of Tyre^ declares that the district was altogether desti- 
tute of wood, and describes the Christian princes as greatly 
perplexed, imtil at length a native Christian offered to show 
them a low valley, from three to four leagues distant, where 
they would find what they needed. A proper force was ac- 
cordingly despatched to the place, with a number of hewers 
and carpenters. The trees even here, however, were small, 
and little suited to the purpose for which they were required. 
But there was nothing better to be had; so they were cut 
down and removed, at great expense and labour, to the camp, 
where several engines of different kinds were made with them 
for assaulting the walls. This circumstance illustrates both the 
need of timber in assaulting walled towns, and the great scarcity 
of it which repeated sieges had produced in the neighbourhood 
of Jerusalem. 

* De.BelL Sac, lib. viii, cap. 6. 

8^fajentttt|^ Meek— Jfir»t gag^ 


The time of Jeremiah was eminently a time of conflict between 
opposing influences and principles, so that the minds of the 
people were agitated and perplexed, and many felt as if they 
knew not what course it behoved them to take ; while many 
made the difficulty of discerning the right course their excuse 
for taking the wrong one. To meet the case of all, this 
message came; as sufficient for all guidance, this rule was 
given: 'Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old 
paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall 
find rest to your souls.' 

The case assumed is that of a traveller, who, on his journey, 
finds himself at the opening of many ways, and knows not with 
any assurance which of them leads to his resting-place, or which 
of them will bring him thither by the most direct and the safest 
road. The place which he seeks is a most ancient city, the 
way to which men have traversed in all ages. That fresh foot- 
path through the flowery meadows, that bridle-path round by 
the marshes, this firesh cutting through the hills — these will not 
do for him ; he must ask for tlie old path. But there may be 
more old paths than one. The broad and pleasant way that 
leadeth to destruction is as old as the strait road that leadeth 
unto life, and far better frequented. It is, therefore, necessary 
to seek not only * the old path,' but * the good way.* Although 
every old way may not be good, the good way is certainly old. 
If, therefore, the traveller finds and follows the way that is both 
old and good, he is safe ; he shall without fail reach his home 
at last, and * find rest to his soul.' 

As this last expression occurs only in one other place, the 
mind is carried forward to our Saviour's invitation : * Come 


The Old Paths. 229 

unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, . . . and ye 
shall find rest to your souls ^ And to 'come' is not merely to 
come to Him but by Him ; for again He says, * I am the way, 
and the truth, and the life ; no man cometh to the Father but 
by me.' 

There was never yet found, and never will be found, any way 
of rest or safety for the soul, but by Him. And this is the old 
way. The apostle, indeed, calls it a * a new and living way ' — 
Heb. X. 20, — as having then received new and fuller illustra- 
tion ; yet it is a way as old as the Fall ; and, indeed, in the 
purpose and foreknowledge of God, older than the Creation. 
There is no older way than this, nor any so safe ; there is no 
other, indeed, that is safe. It was not, when the apostle wrote, 
a way newly opened, for it existed before all time ; nor was it 
then newly revealed, for it had been made known to man so 
soon as he had fallen ; nor was it then newly made use of, for 
all the Old Testament saints were saved by the same grace of 
Christ, and justified by his righteousness, and their sins par- 
doned through his blood, and expiated by his sacrifice — equally 
with those who have lived under the New Testament In these 
latter days the ancient path has been more clearly shown and 
more fully opened up, just as now many an old road is opened 
to the sun and air by the removal of the dense foliage that 
grew on either side and met overhead, admittii\g only here and 
there some stray beams of the sun, and allowing only a few 
glimpses of the clear blue sky. In all time there is but one 
way of salvation : there never was any other, and never will be. 
It is therefore our course, as it was formerly, still to inquire for 
the old path, the good old way, the pleasant way of Christ. 

This way it is not difficult to find. It has been opened up, 
cleared, and levelled ; waymarks have been set up for every 
step to be taken in it ; and in the Scriptures we are provided 
with a chart of the road, which never yet misled any, who turned 
to it with a fiiU and earnest purpose to be guided by its indi- 

But we may be told to see what differences there are among 
Christians as to the road, who yet have all this same chart for 

230 Twentieth Week — First Day. 

their guidance, and who all declare that they follow its direc- 
tions. Well ; but it is not so. They agree much nitore than 
they differ ; and, after all, it is not so much about the way itself 
that they disagree, for that is very plain, as about the stones 
with which the way is paved, the length or shortness of the way, 
or the medicinal qualities of the plants that grow by the way- 

If men would read their Bibles with meekness and modesty, 
and study the sacred pages with honest diligence, we should 
soon be perfectly agreed in all things necessary to salvation, 
and belonging to the way of life ; and, for the rest, we may 
entertain different notions, and yet be safe and quiet, and it 
would signify little whether such differences were ever settled 
When our eternal state seems to be brought into peril and 
doubt ; when the public peace is broken, and the order of 
Christ's church disturbed ; when private fiiendships are torn 
asunder, and grievous misunderstandings arise among those 
who are fellow-heirs of the promises, — ^these are not the effects 
merely of allowable differences of opinion, but of indiscretion, 
of intemperate heat, and bitter zeal. Whoever examines the 
rise and growth of dangerous heresies and schisms, will find that 
their root is more generally in the abuse of knowledge than in 
the want of it. In short, God has done for us as much as 
became Him, and as much as we needed. All necessary truth 
He has made plain and obvious, and He will not call us to 
severe account for our mistakes and ignorance in lesser matters; 
and therefore, although all may deceive themselves in points 
unessential, yet only they shall have to sustain his fiery indig- 
nation who wilfully deceive themselves, in the face of the light 
He has given to our path, or who labour to pervert and disturb 
others in their quiet and happy walk along the old path, the 
good way, that leads them to the true and only rest for their 

The theological teachings of Jeremiah are worthy of the most 
careful consideration. The Bible student will find in them a con- 
necting link between the old dispensation and the new. Jeremiah 
contemplates the annulling of the outward forms and rites of the 

Ancient Cruelties. 231 

old ; and yet he maintains most firmly the eternal obligation of the 
spiritual truths which they embodied. He warns the Israelites 
against trusting in forms. He tells them emphatically, that there 
is no virtue in the mere letter of the law. * How do ye say, We are 
wise, and the law of the Lord is with us ? Lo, certainly in vain hath 
He made it ; the fear of the scribes is in vain.* Yet he counsels 
the people to * ask for the old paths, and walk therein.' These are 
the paths of true holiness, and of heart devotion to God, of spiritual 
service offered to the great Spirit He shows that the priestly office 
had been degraded, and that the prophetical office had become a 
snare ; and that a time was coming, when the knowledge and de- 
velopment of the truth should not be confined to any order or caste, 
and should not be necessarily connected with place, or time, or 
rite. Taking up the language revealed to him by the Divine Spirit, 
he gives utterance to the grand fundamental truth of the gospel : 
* After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward 
parts, and write it in their hearts ; and I will be their God, and 
they shall be my peojde. And they shall teach no more every man 
his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying. Know the Lord : 
for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest 
of them, saith the Lord ; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will 
remember their sin no more.' 

@;tojettfkt|^ Meek— Sieronir gag^ 


The prophet, in the course of his description of the intended 
invaders of the land, emphatically declares, that ' they are cruel, 
and have no mercy.' 

It was the lot of Jeremiah to live to record the fulfilment of 
some of his own predictions, and of this among the rest. It is 
dear from his account, as well as from the harrowing detail in 
the Lamentati(Mis, that the capture of Jerusalem was attended 
with the utmost barbarities which ancient warfare was accus- 
tomed to mflict upon the inhabitants of a city taken by storm. 
It may be said, however, that these cruelties were committed in 
hot bloody and are not materially different in kind from those 

232 Twentieth Week — Second Day. 

which have, in all ages, been the doom of a town taken in the 
like circumstances. If, under the perfect discipline of modem 
armies, it has often been found beyond the power of the officers, 
even when they earnestly desired it, to restrain the infuriated 
soldiers from giving full vent to their most brutal passions and 
destructive impulses, how must it have been in the case (^ 
ancient oriental armies, with their looser discipline, their habi- 
tual disregard of human life, and their customary delight in 
human suffering; their naturally fiercer passions, and fainter 
habits of self-restraint \ and with all these propensities, not only 
unopposed, but usually, in the case of a conquered town, sanc- 
tioned, and even stimulated, by their commanders ! We cannot 
call to mind an instance in ancient oriental warfare of any 
attempt made by the officers to restrain the soldiers in the case 
of a city taken by storm. We may find Roman instances ; but 
even the rigorous discipline of the Roman armies seldom suf- 
ficed to put any effectual restraint upon the troops. It is well 
known, for instance, that Titus was most anxious to preserve 
the temple of Jerusalem, but that, in the face of his strictest 
injunctions and urgent entreaties, it was wilfully fired by the 

The temper of a nation is not to be tested by the proceed- 
ings of its warriors on such occasions, so much as by the indi- 
cations of character and habit, which are offered in times of 
peace, of cool blood, of deliberate action ; or by the details of 
preparation and purpose before war commences, or the treat- 
ment of captives after it is over. Judged by these tests, the 
Babylonians, as well as the Assyrians, may be easily shown to 
have been a people cruel and without mercy. 

Whatever be the atrocities of modem European warfare in 
hot blood, there is probably no state which would deUberately 
arrange for the infliction of needless pain and suffiering upon 
the enemy. We lately saw some correspondence in the papers 
about new guns and new shot ; and an officer wrote with the 
evident feeling of one expecting the general concurrence ctf 
military authorities in an objection which he took to the latter, 
that the wound inflicted by such shot must be incurable ; and. 

Ancient Cruelties. 233 

he ui|;ed, it could be the desire of no one to inflict incurable 
wounds upon those of the enemy who might survive an action. 
Now, we have no hesitation in declaring, that this quality of a 
weapon, which is adduced as a ground for its exclusion from 
our warfere, would have been the highest recommendation of 
it to the ancient nations we have in view, and, indeed — ^we fear 
that we must say — to most existing nations of the East. Again, 
we can call to mind that nothing in early life shocked us so 
much, in the accounts we read of the Spanish Armada, as the 
deliberate predetermined purpose of after-persecution and 
cruelty, implied in the presence of the instruments of torture 
found on board the captured vessels. But this intention, at 
which the mind revolts so strongly, is quite in unison with 
ancient oriental habits and character. In fact, the conception 
is oriental, and might be traced to the influence which the 
long-enduring dominion of the Arabs in Spain imparted no less 
to the ideas and habits than to the language of the people. 

To substantiate, on the principles we have indicated, the 
character which the prophet gives to the Chaldeans, it might 
suffice to call to mind the refinement of barbarity with which 
the king Zedekiah was treated by Nebuchadnezzar, some time 
after the capture of Jerusalem. He slew the sons of Zedekiah 
before his eyes, with no other object, apparently, than to rend 
his heart ; and his own eyes were then torn out, that this blast- 
ing sight might be his last and most enduring visual remem- 
brance. This scene has been vividly presented to our senses 
by the sculptured representations of similar circumstances in the 
remains of Nineveh. In one instance, to which we have already 
referred,^ the king with his own spear thrusts out the eyes of 
a kneeling captive, and holds with his own hand the cord 
which is inserted into the lip and nostrils of this and two other 
prisoners. Thus afficted, ruined, and shorn of life's uses, the 
poor king, with bleeding eyes, was sent off", bound in fetters of 
brass, to Babylon, where he was kept in prison to the day of his 
death. This also is brought before us by the Assyrian sculp- 
tures, where we find a person, manifestly of rank, thus fettered 
* Evening Series, Fifteenth Week — Seventh Day. 


Twentieth Week — Second Day. 

and manacled; and the veiy same slab exhibits a still greatei 
atrocity in a captive being actually represented as flayed alive ! 
The execudoaei has begun with a curved knife to lemove the 
skin from the back of the man's arm ; and this takes place in 
the presence of the king, to whom the sufferer's &ce is turned, 
as if imploring pardon. The fact of the king's presence is pro- 
bably always to be understood when any kind of ptmishmcnt is 
said to have been ordered by the king, or executed by him. 
This is the case at the present day in Persia, for instance, 
where eveiy sentence pronounced, whether of death, mudiaticm, 

or bastinado, is executed upon the spot in his presence. TTie 
practice is deemed by the Persians essential to the maintenance 
of the royal authority. It adds, they contend, very materially 
to the impression of terror which they think ^onld be made 
upon the turbulent and refractory classes of the communily. 
This no doubt forms part of the education which r^ulers the 
best of kings revoldngly indifferent to human life and sufferii^. 
It is reported of the king (Futteh Ali Shah) who reigned in 
Persia during the greater part of the present century, that be 
was naturally a humane man, and when he first came to the 
throne, felt himself obliged to turn aside his head when an 
execution took place. This being regarded by the Persians 

A ncient Cruelties. 235 

not only as unkingly, but as an unmanly weakness, the monarch 
strove to conquer it, and custom soon inured him to look 
calmly on. 

Persia, indeed, the only one of the ancient eastern kingdoms 
which still subsists, does, more than any other country, exhibit 
usages of state and aspects of regal life analogous to those 
ascribed in Scripture to eastern kings, as well as to those 
which the sculptures of the Assyrian and other eastern nations 
offer. The chief difference is in war, the use of firearms having 
necessarily eflfected there, as everywhere else, great changes in 
the operations pursued. The treatment which Zedekiah ex- 
perienced from the Babylonians, as well as the Assyrian analo- 
gies to which we have referred, may, for instance, be compared 
with the treatment of the emperor Valerian by the Persian king 
Sapor, who is reported not only to have detained his royal 
captive in hopeless bondage, but to have paraded him in chains^ 
invested with the imperial purple, as a constant spectacle of 
fallen greatness to the multitude; and it is added, that when- 
ever the proud conqueror mounted his horse, he placed his foot 
upon the neck of the Roman emperor. Nor is this all ; for 
when Valerian sank under the weight of his shame and grief, 
his corpse was flayed, and the skin, stuffed with straw, was pre- 
served for ages in the most celebrated temple of Persia. Gibbon 
relates these facts with some expression of incredulity. But 
they are in good part confirmed by the sculptures (at Shapur in 
Persia), in which the triumph of this king over the Romans is 
commemorated; and still more by the light which has been 
cast upon the savagery of ancient eastern nations, by the atro- 
cities represented in their sculptures, and in none more than in 
those of Assyria, and such as we shall probably soon find in 
those of Babylon. In fact, nothing is in itself more illustrative 
of the truth of the diaracter given to the eastern conquerors 
by the prophet than the existence of such representations. To 
perpetuate in marble, and to parade in palaces of state, bar- 
barities at which nature shudders, and which, if committed even 
in hot blood, a right-minded people would seek to bury in 
obhvion — do most emphatically mark the backward state of 

236 Twentieth Week — Third Day. 

civilisation which had been attained by any nation that could 
imagine its glory to be thus perpetuated. 

THE RAVENOUS BIRD. — ^JEREMIAH VI. 22, 23 j L. 4I, 42. 

It is a noticeable fact, that we have Scripture authority, and 
that, too, the authority of Jeremiah himself, for including the 
Persians especially in our illustrations of mercilessness. For 
the prophet, in foretelling the eventual fall of Babylon herself, 
declares, the * people from the north,* that is, the Persians, who 
are to execute the Lord's sentence upon her, ' are cruel, and 
will not show mercy;' giving them, in fact, precisely the same 
character in this respect which he had previously given to the 
Babylonians themselves. 

But we have not yet done with the Babylonians, wishing to 
direct attention to a few more examples of the kind which we 
yesterday described to be truly illustrative of a people's cha- 
racter. In considering this subject, the mind instantly reverts 
to the singular instances of Babylonian cruelty which the book 

of Daniel offers : the being cast alive 
into 'burning fiery furnaces,' and 
into dens of lions, and the being 
hewn in pieces, all for such oflfences 
as refusing to worship a golden 
image, for pra3dng to any god but 
^ the king, or for speaking * anything 
J amiss against the God of Shadrach, 
Meshach, and Abed-nego.' The two former punishments are 
unique, so far as we know ; and it is remarkable, that the only 
piece of oriental antiquity in which anything like a lion's den 
appears, is in a coin of Babylon. One of the very few pieces 
of sculpture found at Babylon, however, represents a lion stand- 
ing over the prostrate body of a man. An engraved gem also 
represents a man combating with or subduing two lions ; and 

The Ravenous Bird. 


at Shus (Susa), not far from the tomb of Daniel, a bas-relief 
has been found, representing two lions, each with a paw 
upon the head of a man half-naked, wiUi his hands bound 
behind him. Of hewing in pieces we have a representa- 
tion in Assyrian sculpture, where three men are represented 
as hacking a prostrate figure to pieces with hatchets, having 
already separated the arms. It has indeed been suggested, 
that this is the image of some god, composed of precious 
metal ; if so, it would be a good illustration of the maltreat- 
ment of conquered idols. But we rather believe it to be a 
human being, because men do not cut up metal with axes, 
and because the scene is not in any town, or near any temple, 
but in a wild, hilly country, where an important captive might 
be taken, but where men do not set up the precious images of 

There is, however, another instance of Babylonian cruelty 
which has been less noticed. In describing the atrocities 
which the Babylonians had committed on and after the taking 
of Jerusalem, the prophet says, ' Princes are hanged up by 
their hand.' Lam, v. 13, Some understand this as meaning 
that they were hanged by the hands of the Chaldeans ; others, 
tiiat they laid violent hands upon themselves, as not being able 
to bear the hardship and disgrace to which they were subjected. 
There are objections to both these interpretations, and espe- 
cially to the latter, seeing that the Jews were not addicted to 
suicide under affliction, and we are expressly told that the 

238 Twentieth Week — Third Day. 

princes were slain by the king of Babylon at Riblah, at the same 
time that Zedekiah received his punishment. This text, how- 
ever, more probably refers to the mode (rf execution. Gill says, 
' I should rather think this to be understood of hanging them, 
not by the neck, but by the hand, could any instance be given 
of such a kind of punishment, so early used, and by this 
people, which has been in other nations, and in more modem 
times.' These conditions are too rigid. He is alluding, pro- 
bably, to the tortures of the Inquisition, and not to modem 
eastern customs. And that a peculiar punishment exists in 
the East now, is a good argument for its former existence. 
Besides, any one who examines the sculptures of the Assyrians, 
will doubt whether any mode, practicable by them, of infficting 
torturing death or pimishment, had escaped the cruel ingenuity 
of this people. The peculiar species of impalement to which 
we have already had occasion to refer, is in this respect ana- 
logically illustrative. Be this as it may, * no punishment,' as 
Mr. Roberts reports, in his Oriental JllusfmfionSy *is more 
common than this in the East, especially for slaves and refrac- 
tory children. Thus, has a master an obstinate slave, has he 
committed some great offence with his hands — ^several men are 
called, who tie his hands, and hoist him firom the roof till he 
beg for forgiveness. Schoolboys who are in the habit of play- 
ing truant, are also thus punished. To tell a man you will 
hang him by the hands, is extremely provoking. See, then, 
the lamentable condition of the princes : they were " hanged 
up by their hand " as common slaves.' 

In reference to the analogous character given to the Persians, 
it is remarkable, that in the parallel prophecy of Isaiah (xhi 
1 1), their leader, as representative of the army, is characterized 
as *a ravenous bird from the east' There may perhaps be in 
this description an allusion little suspected. In the Assyrian 
sculptures we constantly see birds of prey hovering over and 
accompanying the army, especially near the person of the king 
or chief, being apparently trained for the purpose. Sometimes 
we see these birds attacking the wounded, as eagles and falcons, 
when contending with large and powerful prey, at once strike 

Tke Ravenous Bird. 239 

at the eyes of their victims ; sometimes they axe represented 
as flying oflF with the entrails of the slain ; and sometimes as 
bearing off their heads, which have been cut off by the cap- 
tors. In one instance of the king's triumphal procession after 
victory, the royal chariot is preceded by minstrels, and by 
soldiers carrying a head in each hand; 
while an eagle hovers above the chariot, 
as if tax^ht to take part in the ovation, 
bearing a head in its claws. This repre- 
sentation may obviously suggest that the 
Persians were similarly attended by ' raven- 
ous birds ;' and hence the special emphasis 
ofthe designation used by the prophet. This 
is rendered the more probable, from the fact that the custom 
of training birds of prey for aggression has been preserved to 
a very recent period. Chardin gives a particular account of 
the mode in which powerfiil falcons were, in Persia, trained to 
assist in the chase, by flying at the heads of even large animals, 
beating their eyes with their wings, and rending them with beak 
and daws, so as to retard and confuse their flight, even when 
too large and powerful to be killed by them. They were trained 
to this service by their food being fastened to the heads of 
stuffed figures, mounted on wheels, of the creatures they were 
designed to be employed against, so that they learned to fly at 
animals of the same kind whenever they saw them in motion. 
Chardin goes on to say, that down to the commencement of 
the preceding century [the sixteenth], it was usual to train 
these birds to attack men in this manner; and he was in- 
formed that birds so trained were still kept in the royal 
felconry. If not quickly recalled by the voice, or by a small 
drum used for the purpose, they became so excited, that the 
call was not heeded by theni, and nothing could prevent them 
from continuing to tear the face of their victim with the utmost 
inveteracy. The traveller had seen nothing of this himself; 
but he had heard that Ali Khouli Khan, governor of Tauris, 
with whom he had been intimately acquainted, had been much 
addicted to this dangerous and cruel diversion, even flying the 

240 Twentieth Week — Fourth Day, 

birds at his friends, but taking care to recall them in time to 
prevent serious harm. It happened one day, however, that, 
having let loose a bird upon a young gentleman, and not being 
sufficiently quick in calling him off, the bird tore out his eyes, 
and he died of the injury and the fright When the king heard 
of this, his displeasure was great ; and the incident contributed 
much to the disgrace into which this nobleman soon after felL^ 
It may be doubted whether the king's displeasure was not more 
awakened by the khan's encroachment on a royal prerogative, 
than at the barbarity of the deed. 

@;tottrfiet|^ Wk^—$^tm^ gag, 


In the sixteenth chapter of his prophecies, Jeremiah draws a 
mournful picture of the miseries and desolations that hung over 
his country. Among other doleful details, he indicates the 
extent of the mortality from the sword and famine by the signi- 
ficant intimation, that the ordinary forms of mourning at the 
occurrence of deaths would cease. So many would perish, that 
death would become familiar ; so many would die, that the 
customary solemnities of grief could not be maintained by the 
survivors. ' They shall die of grievous deaths ; they shall not 
be lamented, neither shall they be buried ; but they shall be 
as dung upon the face of the earth.' And again : * They shall 
not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut them- 
selves, nor make themselves bald for them : neither shall men 
tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the 
dead ; neither shall they give them the cup of consolation to 
drink for their father, or for their mother.' 

The horror of the dead remaining unburied is here and else- 
where strongly represented by Jeremiah. This must have been 
the more abhorrent to the Jews, as the law of Moses trained 

* Voyages de Chevalier Chardin^ en Perse et auires Lieux de V Orient^ torn, 
iil pp. 396, 397. Ed. Langles, Paris, iSii. 

Funeral Feasts. 241 

them into the habit of seeing that all who died should in due 
time be buried, by attaching a social and religious disqualifica- 
tion of ceremonial ' uncleanness ' to the merest contact with a 
corpse ; so that the greatest malefactors were not refused the 
rites of sepulture : and we learn from Ezekiel xxxix. 15, that 
great pains were taken by this people to inter all the bodies of 
the slain on both sides after any battle. It was held, indeed, 
that the sacred land was defiled by the bodies of the slain re- 
maining exposed upon its surface. This horror and ignominy 
of remaining unburied was not confined to the Jews ; we meet 
with it continually in classical antiquity, and it seems to be 
founded on the notion, that the ghosts of those whose bodies 
had not obtained the honours of sepulture were doomed to 
wander for a hundred years upon the dark river of death (Styx), 
before being allowed to pass to the regions beyond.^ 

Of cutting the flesh as an act of grief, and also as an act of 
frantic excitement, we have already spoken." It only remains 
to remark, that traces of this custom may be found in all parts 
of the 'world ; so that it would seem to be founded on a natural, 
rather than a conventional, sentiment, although it is difficult to 
define its exact nature, and our present duty does not require 
us to attempt its analysis. To inflict injury upon one's self 
would seem rather an act of compunction than of mere grief ; 
and there may be something of this in it even as an act of 
mourning ; for almost always with the natural grief for the loss 
of one, known and loved enough to be lamented with deep 
emotion, some feelings of contrition must ever mingle, as 
avenging memory brings back the ungenerous thought, the 
churlish word, the misinterpreted or unrequited kindness, which 
must cast their cloud over the brightest recollections of the 
loved and lost. 

The * making themselves bald,' by cutting or shaving the 

^ Haec omnis, quam cernis, inops inhumataque turba est : 
Centum errant annos, volitantque haec litora circum : 
Turn demiim admissi stagna exoptata revisunt. — j^neidm. 325. 

2 Morning Series : Seventeenth Week— Seventh Day ; and Forty-sixth 
Week — Sixth Day. 


242 Twentieth Week — Fourth Day. 

hair of the head, is often mentioned in Scripture ; and we have 
made some slight allusion to it in noticing Job's expressions of 
grief.^ This, as an act of grief, has disappeared in a great 
measure from western Asia. That it was forbidden to his 
followers by Mohammed is one reason ; but a better is, that 
the men have no hair upon their heads that they can demolish, 
it being the universal custom to shave the hair of the head. 
The women, however, who continue to wear their hair long, do 
not indeed shave their heads, but often tear out their hair by 
handfuls on such occasions. Among the Greeks, who anciently, 
as now, wore their hair, the custom of tearing, cutting off, or 
shaving the hair, was at least as common as among the Jews. 
With them, the hair, thus separated from the head, was sometimes 
laid upon the corpse as a tribute of affection and regret ; some- 
times it was cast upon the funeral pile, to be consumed with the 
remains of the deceased ; and on other occasions it was laid 
upon the grave. In times of great public mourning this cere- 
mony was extended even to the beasts ; and on the deaths of 
men of high note, it was not unusual for whole cities to be 
shaven. These and other ideas and sentiments connected with 
the hair, owe their significance, not only to the fact that this is 
a graceful ornament to the body, the neglect or demolition of 
which, therefore, implies that disregard of ornament which pro- 
perly belongs to grief, but that the hair is a living part of the 
body — ^part of a man's self, which yet may be separated without 
pain, — and which has this peculiar quality, that it is not, like 
other parts of the body, subjected in the lapse of time to change 
or decay. It is this latter circumstance which causes the hair 
to be so much employed as a memorial of affection. 

All is plain enough so far ; but what shall we understand by 
the circumstance that * the cup of consolation' shall not be given 
even to one who has lost his father or his mother ? — clearly 
showing that it was given to mourners under ordinary circum- 
stances. It appears from John xi. 19, that when tidings of a 
death went abroad, the friends of the family hastened to com- 
fort and condole with the mourning relatives of the deceased. 

^ Evening Series, Third Week — Second Day. 

Funeral Feasts. 243 

It is understood that on such occasions they offered them meat, 
and pressed them to drink, presuming that they were too much 
absorbed in grief to care of themselves for these things ; and as 
usage indeed exacted that during the first three days after the 
death, which were called the ' days of weeping,' the mourners 
should have no food prepared in their own house, nor eat any- 
thing of their own. It is alleged, that during this period the 
friends presented the mourners with the choicest dainties and 
the finest wines, on the ground that they needed better than 
usual sustenance in their trouble,^ and such a practice has been 
supposed to be alluded to and sanctioned by Proverbs xxxi. 6 ; 
but that text clearly does not refer to anything of the sort. The 
practice is, however, indicated in the apocryphal book of 
Tobit,* where the somewhat self-righteous personage of that 
name is represented as enjoining his son Tobias : * Pour out 
thy bread on the burial of the just, but give nothing to the 
wicked.' At the present day, among the Jews, friends do not 
act thus until after the funeral, which usually takes place much 
sooner than with us. It is then that the mourners first break 
the fast they are understood to have observed since the death 
took place. The relatives all sit down upon the floor on their 
return from the funeral, and a chair is placed before them with 
a simple refection of eggs boiled hard, a little salt, and a small 
loaf, of which they all take a small portion. It is quite as pro- 
bable that the text of to-day refers to some custom like this as 
to the other. But it is more usually supposed that the suc- 
ceeding clause rather relates to the entertainment following the 
funeral, whatever may have been its precise nature in ancient 
times. Indeed, the connection with what precedes seems to 
require some such interpretation : * Thou shalt not go into the 
house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and drink.' The term 
' house of feasting ' seems incongruous, but it simply means the 
house in which any kind of feast is held ; and in this case it is 
difficult to understand who the persons designated are, as those 
with whom he is not to eat and drink, unless the mourners and 
friends of the deceased, to whom the antecedent passages bear 

* Buxtorf, Synag. Jud, ch. 35. * Tobit iv. 17. 

244 Twentieth Week — Fourth Day. 

reference. The fact of such a funeral feast seems to be well 
established on the authority of the old Rabbinical writers ; but 
it is not agreed at what time it took place. It could not be 
till the close of the three days of weeping, and probably imme- 
diately followed as an introduction, on the part of the mourners, 
to their customary habits of life. The entertainment was given 
by the chief mourner at his own house, if different from that 
in which the deceased had dwelt ; and to it were invited the 
friends of the deceased, and those kind neighbours who had 
supplied the family with food during the three days. These 
funeral feasts were conducted with all proper decorum, and care 
was taken to preclude indecent excess, as a decree of the 
Sanhedrim limited the quantity of wine to be drunk on such 

We need not wonder at the existence of such funeral banquets 
among the Jews, for they were celebrated among all ancient 
nations, and have been preserved in some quarters to the pre- 
sent time. We shall not refer to the often cited examples of 
this kind among the Greeks and Romans, but will rather note 
a few particulars which show that the custom of funeral banquets 
existed in our own coimtry, and is not yet wholly extinct. The 
instances are derived from Brand's Popular Antiquities^ in which 
a large collection of like facts may be found under the head of 
* Funeral Entertainments.' 

Moresin tells us that in his time funeral feasts were so profuse 
in England, that it cost less to portion off a daughter than to 
bury a dead wife. These entertainments are still kept up in 
the north of England, where they are called arvalsy or arvUs^ 
whence the bread distributed on these occasions is called *arvil 
bread.' Tracing this custom to the ancients, and remarking 
that such entertainments seem to have been designed to appease 
the ghosts of the dead, Brand adds, * The modem arvals, how- 
ever, are intended to appease the appetites of the living, who 
have, upon these occasions, superseded the manes of the dead.' 
An allusion to these feasts occiu^ in Hamlet : 

* The funeral baked maits, 
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.' 

Funeral Feasts. 245 

Among the extracts from the Berkeley MSS., read before the 
Society of Antiquaries, is this : * From the time of the death of 
Maurice, the fourth Lord Berkeley, which happened June 8, 
1368, until his interment, the reeve of his manor of Hinton 
spent three quarters and seaven bushells of beanes in fatting 
one hundred geese towards his funerall, and divers other reeves 
of other manors the like, in geese, duckes, and other pultry.' 

In Dudley Lord North's Forest of Varieties^ published in 
1645, IS the following : * Nor are all banquets (no more than 
musick) ordained for merry humours, some being used even at 
funerals.' It would seem, however, by comparing the dates of 
Brand's citations, that the custom must have declined during 
the Commonwealth, for Richard Flecknoe, writing in 1665, 
speaks of the funeral feasts as ' quite left off,' — a phrase which, 
in itself, seems to express the recency of their discontinuance. 
In parts of Scotland, however, in Ireland, and in the Isle of 
Man, such feasts have been kept up to a much later date. 

In the minute-book of the Society of Antiquaries, July 21, 
1725, the following entry occurs: * Mr. Anderson gave the 
society an account of a Highland chief's funeral. • The body is 
first put into a litter between to horses, and, attended by the 
whole clan, is brought to the place of burial in the churchyard. 
The nearest relations dig the grave, the neighbours having set 
out the ground so that it may not encroach upon the graves of 
others. While this is performing, some hired womeiiy for that 
purpose, lament the deady setting forth his genealogy and noble 
exploits. After the body is interred, a hundred black cattle 
and two hundred sheep are killed for the entertainment of the 

Through the Statistical Account of Scotland^ there are dis- 
persed various notices of the retention of funeral feasting in 
different localities of that country, especially among the poor, 
who in all countries are the most tenacious retainers of old 
customs. We have room for only two. Under the parish of 
Lochbroom, county of Ross, we read : * At their burials and 
marriages the inhabitants too much adhere to the folly of their 
ancestors. On these occasions they have a custom of feasting a 

246 Twentieth Week — Fifth Day. 

great number of their friends and neighbours, and this often at 
an expense which proves greatly to the prejudice of orphans 
and young people ; although these feasts are seldom productive 
of any quarrels or irregularities among them.' This is more 
than can be said for the Irish * Wakes.' Under the parish of 
Carmunnock, county of Lanark, the minister states : * We must 
mention a custom which still prevails, and which certainly 
ought to be abolished. It is usual in this parish, as in many 
other parts of Scotland, when a death has taken place, to invite 
on such occasions the greater part of the country round ; and 
though called to attend at an early hour in the forenoon, yet it 
is generally towards evening before they think of canying forth 
the corpse for interment. While, on these occasions, the good 
folks are assembled, though they never run into excess, yet no 
small expense is incurred by the family, who often vie with 
those around them in giving, as they call it, an honourable 
burial to their deceased friend. Such a custom is attended 
with many evils, and frequently involves in debt, or reduces to 
poverty, many families otherwise frugal and industrious, by this 
piece of uselefSs parade and ill-judged expense.* 


Jeremiah is eminently the prophet, the historian, and the 
mourner of captivity — or rather of exile ; for what is called 
captivity in the authorized version of the Scripture, is really 
exile and nothing more, except in the case of a few persons of 
high station, who were sometipies, but not generally, kept under 
restraint. Captivity is the state of those who have been, by 
war, brought into an altered and subjugated condition ; and so 
far, it is properly applied to the state to which the Hebrew 
kingdoms were successively reduced. The term has acquired 
the sense also of imprisonment, so that * captive ' and ' prisoner* 
are, in popular and poetical language, synonymous terms. But, 

Fatherland. 247 

in fact, a man may be a captive without being a prisoner ; and 
hence, to us, the term ' captivity,' although in the strict sense 
proper, is apt to suggest a severer condition than it is actually 
intended to denote. 

The object of the great eastern conquerors, in enforcing the 
removal of the people of conquered nations — z. policy which 
appears to us so peculiar and remarkable — seems to have 
grown out of the vast extent of the empires these conquerors 
formed ; for their distant provinces being thus beyond the 
immediate reach of the central power, and it being hence an 
onerous and expensive operation to move troops to reduce them 
in case of revolt, it became the obvious policy to weaken those 
provinces, so as to render revolt impossible. This was effected 
by rooting up all local ties, and destroying all local influence 
and power, in the removal to other lands of the flower of the 
population — of all whose presence could give strength to a 
nation in war or in peace. The process was, in fact, that of 
denationalization ; and how successful it was generally is shown 
by the fact, that the ten tribes of the kingdom of Israel, 
expatriated by the Assyrians, speedily lost their separate ex- 
istence in the land of their exile, and have never since been 

But the object of this policy was not only to weaken the 
extremities, by destroying their power of spontaneous action, 
but, in the same proportion, to strengthen the central force and 
prosperity of the empire, by bringing into it all the valuable 
parts of foreign populations. This object is clearly traced in 
the statement, that the successive deportations of the people of 
Judah by the Chaldeans, comprised the princes, the nobles, the 
priests, the warriors, the skilled artisans, leaving nothing but 
the unskilled labourers, *the poor of the land, to be vine- 
dressers and husbandmen.' 

In the lands to which they were taken, they were not slaves 
or captives, but free colonists, — free to follow their several pur- 
suits, and to enrich themselves by their exertions, but not free 
to quit the region to which they had been transferred, not free, 
perhaps — ^judging in this, however, from analogy, rather than 

248 Twentieth Week— Fifth Day. 

known fact — ^from paying a tax to the government higher than 
that required from the native population ; though we may con- 
clude that any distinction to their disadvantage in this respect, 
ceased with the lapse of time. Beyond all people that ever 
lived, the Jews were adapted to thrive under such circum- 
stances. If they have thriven in modem times, in all the 
countries of their dispersion, in spite of the dislike and abhor- 
rence with which they have been regarded by those among 
whom they dwelt, in spite of the persecutions to which they 
have been subjected, and in spite of the most cruel and 
impoverishing exactions, — ^how much more must they not have 
thriven among a people who had no strong hatred against 
them, and under a government which had a due sense of their 
value as usefiil citizens and servants of the state, and which, 
therefore, sought rather to encourage than to depress them? 
No doubt there were exceptions. We know historically of 
some. But that, upon the whole, the Jews did not eventually 
find themselves in an evil case, is shown by the fact of their 
general backwardness to return to their own land, when the 
decree of C)nrus left them free to do so ; and by the acknow- 
ledged fact, that, as it was the flower of the nation which had 
been taken into exile, so it was the flower of the nation which 
chose to remain in the land to which it had been exiled. 

But although the exiled Hebrews eventually found their lot 
to be attended with many ameliorations, some time passed 
before these could be realized ; and they were only fully 
realized by the generation composed of those bom in exile, or 
too young at the time of deportation to cherish any disturbing 
recollections of what they had lost. In all cases, exile is a 
bitter thing, and bitterest of all when it is known to be a life 
of exile, from which there is no hope of return. Only those 
who have spent years in distant lands can tell the yearning of 
the heart for one's native country — ^the craving, increasing in 
intensity as time passes, to return to its loved shores — to live 
there a few more years before life closes, and at last to die in 
our own nest 

*■ 'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view.* 

Fatherland. 249 

Distance of either place or time lends this enchantment to the 
view which the mind takes of the far-oflf or long-forsaken home ; 
and not less to the returned exile than to the man long sick, 
when he ' breathes and walks again/ — 

* The common sun, the air, the skies, 
To him are opening paradise.' 

But the feeling is more enduring ; for if one is at length pri- 
vileged to return to his own land, he finds that land has ac- 
quired an interest in his eyes which age cannot wither nor use 
exhaust. This is not speculation, but experience. For the 
writer can declare, that after some years of absence in the far- 
ofiF lands of the morning, with little thought or intention of ever 
returning, and after the first agonizing rapture of greeting once 
more his natal soil had subsided, he has not ceased, during 
nineteen years, to feel it as a joy and a privilege, which has, in 
its measure, been a balm to many sorrows, to dwell in this 
land ; and he has experienced a constant intensity of enjoy- 
ment in the mere fact of existence in it, which had not formerly 
been imagined, and which only the facts of privation and com- 
parison can enable one thoroughly to realize. 

Now, if this be the common feeling of all men towards their 
fatherland, ^ in what intensity must not this feeling have existed 
among the Jews, to whom their native country possessed not 
only tiie common interest which every land offers to those who 
are its natives, but to whom the country from which they were 
cast forth was the land of the promise made to their fathers — 
the land consecrated by the special presence of Jehovah — the 
land, the possession of which was so interwoven with their laws 
and religion, that without it they could not discharge the obli- 
gations of the covenant, and their very worship must become a 
service shorn of its essential rites ! To be cast forth from that 

^ This term has now been naturalized from the Germans ; but if our own 
good old ' mother country* had not been spoiled by its use in petty colonial 
politics, it would have been far more significant and expressive. As it is, 
no one can use the term with comfort, after the newspapers have defiled it, 
by appropriating to the permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies the 
title of • Mr. Mother Country.' 

250 Twentietk Week — Sixth Day. 

land, was avowedly a mark of their Lord's displeasure ; and 
the burden of this consciousness, heavy upon their souls, im- 
parts a peculiar horror to the denunciations of the prophets, 
and an agony, not known before or since among men, to 
the lamentations of the people. In the same proportion, the 
certainty that few of even the youngest then living could ever 
hope to return, must have been felt with an intensity of anguish, 
to which, in the more refined minds, 

'The Kfted aie, the agonizing wheel, 
Luke's irciii down, and Damiea's bed of steel,' 
had been but light torture ; and on this, the tenderest point of 
all, Jeremiah spared them not : ' Weep ye not for the dead, 
neither bemoan him ; but weep sore for him that goeth away ; 
for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.' 


We yesterday contemplated the state of exile which the pro- 
phet predicted and recorded in its final aspects ; showing that 
when the captives reached their allotted abodes, their condition 
was less austere than has usually been supposed, unless from 
the feelings which must necessarily connect themselves with an 
expatriated condition, even under the most favourable circum- 

But, it may be asked, how then are we to understand the 
deplorable pictures drawn by the prophets ; and how to take 
the historical records and the sculptured memorials of the most 
cruel treatment of prisiraers of war ? We may even be refetred 
back to our own recent observations on these barbarities. 

The answer is easy. These atrocities are inflicted upon the 

chiefs and le;ulcrs, or those whose conduct has been peculiarly 

offensive to the conquerors, immediately after the capture, or 

kuomediately on their bemg brought to the presence of the king, 

Captives. 251 

should he have been absent at the time, as was Nebuchad- 
nezzar when Zedekiah was seized in the attempt to escape. 
This treatment did not affect the mass of the people destined 
for exile ; but there can be no doubt that these also suffered 
much petty maltreatment from the brutal troopers before they 
commenced their journey, especially if they belonged to a town 
that had been taken by fire and sword. And we may well 
believe, that under the escort of such soldiers, the long journey 
to their appointed land must have been replete with hardship 
and suffering, especially as whole families were taken away, 
with the women and children, to whom such a journey would 
have been severely trying under the most favourable circum- 
stances, and who had now to make it under the rude conduct 
of hostile bands, careless of their ease, indifferent to their 
suffering, and with blood yet warm from recent conflict. These 
could have no other care than to get the train of exiles along 
as speedily as they could, and with as little loss of life as cir- 
cumstances might permit. In all such cases of enforced ex- 
patriation, whether to slavery or to comparative freedom, and 
whether by land or sea, the horrors of * the middle passage' are 
great, and never to be forgotten. 

The Assyrian sculptures throw much and interesting light 
upon the whole subject, — the more valuable, as the first series 
of expatriations recorded in Scripture were by the Assyrians ; 
and because, although the latter series were by the Babylonians, 
these were founded on the same principles, and doubtless con- 
ducted in the same manner. 

The information derivable from this source, as to the results 
of a city being taken by assault, with the subsequent treatment 
of the prisoners, as well as in regard to the milder treatment 
of expatriated populations not thus taken in conflict, tallies in 
all respects with the accounts in Scripture, The statement in 
which Layard embodies this information, is that which we shall 
chiefly follow, because he is not open to any suspicion of strain- 
ing his interpretation of the sculptures to make them illustrative 
of Scripture. This is scarcely even incidentally his object ; 
and even in the page or two for which we take his guidance. 

252 Twentieth Week—Sixth Day. 

several illustrations of Scripture occur, of which he appears to 
be unconscious, but which it will be our duty to indicate. 

In the Assyrian sculptures, it is seen that when the battering- 
ram has effected a breach, and the assault has commenced, the 
women appear on the walls, and tearing their hair, or stretching 
forth their arms, implore mercy. The men are not unfre- 
quently represented as joining in this cry for quarter. But 
when the assailants became masters of the place, an indis- 
criminate slaughter appears to have succeeded, and the city 
was generally given over to the flames. In the bas-reliefs, 
warriors are seen decapitating the conquered, and plunging 
swords or daggers into their hearts, holding them by the hair 
of their heads. Layard says : * The prisoners were either im- 
paled and subjected to horrible torments, or carried away as 
slaves.' From this we differ; as, where the men are repre- 
sented as impaled, the siege is perceived to be still in progress, 
— showing that the persons thus treated were not those taken 
in the city, but such as fell into the assailants' hands in the 
course of the siege, and with whom they thus dealt in order to 
terrify the besieged. The tortures we take to be exceptional 
instances of exemplary punishment ; and it is certainly probable, 
that the men whom the warriors chose to spare in the sack of a 
city became their slaves, whom they might sell for their profit 
The case of persons so taken is all along to be carefiilly dis- 
tinguished from that of expatriated inhabitants. As to the 
prisoners being so disposed of as slaves, we have Joel's testi- 
mony to the fact : ' They have cast lots for my people ; and 
have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that 
they may drink.' ^ The particulars of what takes place when 
the enemy enters the city, call strongly to mind the statements 
of Jeremiah : * The Chaldeans burnt the king's house and the 
houses of the people with fire, and brake down the walls of 
Jerusalem.' * The young and the old lie on the ground in the 
streets : my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword.' * 
And still more forcibly they illustrate the historical statement : 
*The king of the Chaldees slew their young men with the 

^ Joel iii. 3. 2 jer^ xxkIx. 8 ; Lam. ii. 21. 

Captives. 253 

sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion 
upon young man or maiden, old man or him that stooped for 
age.' ^ 

We have not seen any representation of the migration of 
large bodies of the conquered people — men, women, and 
children — because this is not properly an incident of warlike 
action, but a subsequent and deliberate measure. What we 
do see mostly is the evacuation of cities by the women and 
children, who are, of course, the chief or sole survivors — the 
men having been slaughtered; together with the removal of the 
spoil, indicated chiefly by flocks and herds. ^ Eunuchs and 
scribes were appointed to take an inventory of the spoil. They 
appear to have stood near the gate, and wrote down with a pen, 
probably upon rolls of leather, the number of prisoners, sheep 
and oxen, and the amount of booty, which issued from the city. 
The women were sometimes taken away in bullock carts ; and 
are usually seen in the bas-reliefs having a part of their property 
with them, either a vase or a sack, perhaps filled with household 
stufll They were sometimes accompanied by their children ; 
and they are generally represented as tearing their hair, throw- 
ing dust upon their head, and bewailing their lot'" The lot 
in such cases may have been slavery — ^the usual doom of those 
taken in a captured town ; or it may be that they are being 
conveyed to the rendezvous or starting-point of the larger 
migration. Sometimes there are men as well as women 
captives. In that case, the men have almost always their 
hands bound behind or before them, and sometimes also their 
feet are fettered. They are roughly handled by the troopers, 
being urged along by blows from staves and the butt-end of 
spears, as well as by ^ punches on the head.' In one case, a 
prisoner turns back, as if to remonstrate with the soldier whose 
hand is uplifted against him. One fact tells favourably : this 
is, that the female captives are never bound, nor personally 
maltreated ; and that they are always well laden with baskets 
and bundles, containing, no doubt, portions of their property, 
which they were allowed to take with them. 

1 2 Chron. xxxvL 17. * Layard, ii. 372. 

254 Twentieth Week — Sixth Day. 

These scenes painfully illustrate the whole of this part of 
the subject, and call to mind the Lord's denunciation by the 
prophet against the reigning king, Coniah (Jeconiah) : ' I will 
cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another 
country, where ye were not bom, and there shall ye die.' 

After the city had been taken, a throne for the king appears 
to have been placed in some conspicuous spot within the walls. 
He is represented in the sculptures as sitting upon it, attended 
by his eunuchs and principal officers, and receiving the prisoners 
brought bound to his presence. The chiefs prostrate themselves 
before him, while he places his foot upon their necks« This 
reminds one of Joshua's commanding the captains of Israel to 
put their feet upon the necks of the captive kings ;^ and of such 
expressions as — * Thou hast also given me the necks of mine 
enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.'^ This was, 
in fact, a symbolical action of completed triumph and mastery 
on the one part, and of as complete subjugation and himiilia- 
tion on the other ; and as such it is represented, not only in 
the Assyrian, but in Egyptian and Persian sculptures. It has 
escaped the describers of Nineveh antiquities, that this setting 
of the conquering king's throne in the conquered city is pointed 
out with marked emphasis by Jeremiah : ' Lo, I will call all 
the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the Lord ; and 
they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at 
the entering of the gates of Jerusalem.'* And so, when at 
Tahpanhes, in Egypt, the prophet foreshows the future and not 
remote conquest of that country by the Babylonians in a very 
remarkable manner, he hides some great stones * in the clay in 
the brick-kiln which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house ;' and, in 
doing so, declares to the men of Judah there present, ' Thus 
saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel : Behold I will send 
and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, 
and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid, and 
he shall spread his royal pavilion over them.'* 

^ Josh. X. 24. ^ Ps. xviii. 40 ; 2 Sam. xxii. 41. 

3jer. i. 15. * Jer. xliii. 9, 10. 

The Yokes. 255 

@;fojenlttt|^ Mteh— Stbmtj^ gag. 


Jeremiah is remarkable among the prophets for the extent in 
which he was taught, and in which he was instructed to teach, 
by material symbols. Of the many instances of this which 
will occur to the reader's recollection, we may notice one which 
is connected with some characteristic incidents of the time. It 
will be borne in mind that the policy constantly enforced by 
Jeremiah was that of quiet submission to the Babylonians, as 
the only means by yvhich the nation could enjoy peace under 
its own kings, and by which the land, the city, and the temple 
could be preserved from the ruin which would be drawn down, 
by any attempt to shake off the yoke of that powerful and 
haughty people. 

To enforce this doctrine of public policy, the prophet was 
instructed to make certain yokes, and send them to the neigh- 
bouring princes of Edom, Moab, AmmOn, Tyre, and Zidon, by 
the ambassadors whom they had sent to Jerusalem to confer 
with king Zedekiah, doubtless with a view to some confederate 
action against the Chaldean power — enjoining them to wear 
the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, into whose hand all these lands 
had been given. What reception this extraordinary message 
met with from these foreign kings we know not. It had perhaps 
more effect than we may suppose ; for it does not appear that 
these powers saw fit in the end to lend any aid to the Jews 
in their revolt, and we know that some aided the Chaldeans 
against them, and exulted in their destruction. 

We do know, however, what reception this significant message 
met with at home, and what became of the yoke which the 
prophet was instructed to wear upon his own neck, while he 
enforced the like counsel upon his king and people. To our 
notions, this was a strange spectacle, and a singular mode of 
preaching to kings and courts. We are, in fact, not very well 

256 Twentieth Week — Seventh Day, 

able to appreciate the force and emphasis which this typical 
representation gave to the utterances of the prophets, with a 
people who were used to be taught by such signs, and to whose 
genius they appear to have been peculiarly suited. ' Bring your 
necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him 
and his people, and live. Why will ye die, thou and thy people, 
by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the 
Lord hath spoken against the nation that will not serve the 
king of Babylon ?' This was the purport of the message which 
he thus delivered before king Zedekiah and his court, and of 
which, when once delivered, his continuing to wear the yoke 
in public, as he did, was a standing memorial, continually re- 
minding those who saw it of the declaration which it symbolized 
and embodied. He even appeared with it in the temple, to 
the inner courts of which he, as a priest, had access. He was 
thus one day in the temple, when he was accosted by Hananiah 
the son of Azur, of Gibeon, who, in the presence of the priests 
and the people, dared to deliver a counter-prophecy in the name 
of the Lord, declaring that the yoke of the king of Babylon 
was broken, and that within two years all the spoils of the 
temple should be brought back, and that the captive king, 
Jeconiah, and all the other captives, should return. * Amen ; 
the Lord do so,' responded Jeremiah ; but he warned him that 
there were signs and fulfilments, by which the people would 
soon learn whether ^uch prophets of peace as he were sent 
from God or not 

But Hananiah persisted, and snatching the yoke from Jere- 
miah's neck, broke it, and by a curious transfer and appro- 
priation of the symbol, cried : * Thus saith the Lord, Even so 
will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, 
from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.' 

And what said — ^what did, Jeremiah, at this high-handed 
blasphemy and outrage ? He did nothing, said nothing : 'And 
the prophet Jeremiah went his way,' is all that the record states. 
This is rare conduct — singular self-control ; but it is strikingly 
indicative of the character of the man. He saw that the case 
had gone out of his hands — ^had attained a point to which his 

The Yokes. 257 

commission did not reach; and it therefore behoved him to 
restrain the natural expression of his indignation, and await in 
patience the Lord's decision in his own cause. 

He had not long to wait. This word of the Lord soon 
came: *Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, 
Thou hast broken the yokes of wood, but thou shalt make for 
them yokes of iron. For thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the 
God of Israel, I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all 
these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of 
Babylon ; and they shall serve him.' 

Besides this, there was a word of doom for Hananiah him- 
self. He had imposed upon the Lord the necessity of vindi- 
cating his insulted message, and avouching the truth of his 
messenger ; and it had become needful to show that, while in 
any case it was no light matter to prophesy a lie in the name 
of the Lord, the offence became doubly atrocious when the lie 
was framed for the very purpose of nullifying a true message, 
and of discrediting a true messenger. Therefore the prophet, 
after a brief and solemn pause, again bespoke the attention of 
Hananiah and the people ; and his voice became awful with the 
tones of judgment, as he said : ' Hear now, Hananiah, The 
Lord hath not sent thee ; but thou makest this people to trust 
in a lie. Therefore, thus saith the Lord : Behold I will cast 
thee from off the face of the earth. This year thou shalt 
DIE, because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord.' And 
what was the result ? Nothing more nor less than this is said : 
*So, Hananiah the prophet died the same year, in the seventh 
month.' This simple record of the result has always seemed to 
us unequalled in that simplicity which rises to grandeur. Here 
is no carefulness of minute statement as to exact fulfilment j no 
call to admiration at the effect of the Lord's judgment * So 
Hananiah died ;' that is all. There is a world of meaning in 
that * So,' — indicating that it was simply the most natural and 
inevitable thing in the world that Hananiah should die — 
nothing at all to marvel at that he did die — when his doom had 
been thus denounced. 

But further, take notice of the date of Hananiah's death. It 



Twentieth Week — Seventh Day. 

was important for the object in view that it should not be long 
delayed. Nor was it. Ilie cursory reader may think that he 
was to die within twelve months, which seems too laige a 
latitude in a case of signal judgment like this. But it is not 
so. It is said that he should die before the expiry of the then 
current year, in the fifth month of which the prophecy was 
delivered ; and, in fact, he died in the seventh month, which 
was only two months after the doom was denounced, and 
while, therefore, that denunciation was firesh in the recollectiixi 
of the people. 

This transaction doubtless tended much for a time to secure 
greater attention and respect for the prophet's utterances. 

fftomtg-ftrsi Meik— Jtrst gay. 


After denouncing the Lord's judgments upon a people laden 
with iniquity, and looking beyond to a time of restoration and 
peace, Jeremiah rebukes their present carelessness and indififer- 
ence, by assuring them that in that better time to come, they 
will look bac^ with very different feelings upon their present 
conduct as a nation : * In the latter days ye shall consider it.* 
This is a passage which calls to mind the parallel and very 
striking text in Deut. xxxii. 29: 'O that they were wise, that 
they understood this, that they would consider their latter end T 

This last passage is usually interpreted as if 'the latter end*^ 
were synonymous with death. This we apprehend is not 
exactly the case, excq)t in so &r as death is die latter end of 
all that belongs to man's life and conduct in this world. The 
latter end appears rather, in the primary signification, intended 
to refer to the closing period of a course of action or conduct,, 
when it can all be looked back upon, and when the effects are 
seen and the results experienced. The great practical point is 
to urge upon us the necessity of closely examining our own 
heart and life, with especial reference to the light in which they 
will appear even to ourselves hereafter — ^when we have already 
reaped all that we have sown, or are in the act of reaping it ; 
and, above all, when we come to cast one long look behind, as 
our feet totter on the borders of the grave. 

To many it may seem difficult thus, by due consideration, to 
realize at one time of life, or at one station in a course of 
action, the point of view which seems to belong to another. 
But the attainment is not difficult. It is, in fact, easy to those 
who wish for it and strive after it. It is simply the true point 


26o Twenty-first Week — First Day, 

of view : and it were hard for us if the Lord had not provided ' 
for our guidance into all truth, not only of essential doctrine, 
but of life and conduct, at every period of our course, and 
under all circumstances that can possibly arise. We have, in 
the Scriptures, a sure and certain light unto our path ; and he 
who has been careful to store his mind with its holy teachings, 
will never be at a loss in deciding upon his own conduct, or 
upon any course of action he contemplates. Our Lord himself 
said of those that would not * receive* his words though they 
heard them : * The word that I have spoken, the same shall 
judge him at the last day.' And this is true also of all the 
words spoken in Scripture. If a man has heard these words — 
whether, at the time, he heeds them or not — ^whether he re- 
ceives them or not — ^they fail not to judge him in his own 
consciousness, not only at the last day, but in his latter days 
— those great days of decision. That such a standard of con- 
quering and invincible truth should be erected in the mind, 
constraining man to become his own judge, and enabling him 
to decide promptly between the accusings and excusings of his 
conscience, is a matter of vital moment, and evinces the im- 
portance of filling with the knowledge of Scripture even those 
minds which may not, at the time, entertain any adequate im- 
pression of its saving truths. 

If this were not enough, the mind, earnestly desirous of 
realizing these most true latter-end views of things, may obtain 
them through the gentle teachings of the Divine Spirit, which 
were never yet denied to any one who sought them in single- 
ness of heart. 

With these essential and sure guides to the consideration 
urged upon us by the sacred writers, we are without excuse if 
we neglect the duty, and brutal if we despise the privilege. 

Ah, what man is there among us, who, in looking back upon 
the past, cannot now discern grievous stains, fearful short- 
comings, distressing faithlessness, evil, and the appearance of 
evil, dishonouring to Christ, and defiling to his own soul, 
burdensome to his conscience, in the fairest and sunniest 
periods of his life, when these things were but Hghtly heeded ; 

The Rechabites. 261 

and how is he then compelled to exclaim, *0h that I had 
considered — ^that I had given one thought to God and the 
latter end^ before I took this burden on my soul !' 

The longer this habit of consideration is postponed, the more 
burdensome it becomes. There is much in a heart-searching 
retrospect over the earliest and most innocent period of life to 
awaken compunction and regret ; but if the wholesome check 
which the habit of considering the latter end imposes, be not 
formed in good time, the blackening horror of the later and 
more advanced period makes that early time seem bright in 
the comparison, and gives birth to feelings which have found 
expression in such words as these : — 

' Lost days of youth ! Oh holy days, 
When joy was blest with prayer and praise — 
When this sad heart, now deeply dyed 
With many a thought unsanctified, 
Trembled at every venial stain, 
And shrunk from sin as now from pain t 
Oh, not that even in that hour 
Of early reason's dawning power, 
, My soul was pure from thoughts of sin ; 

But now so dark the past has been. 
That those first stains of young offence 
Bear the light hue of innocence." 


Cfojenlg-firsl Meieh— S^jewnlr gag. 


There was a remarkable people whose presence in Jerusalem, 
to which they had repaired for refuge on the approach of the 
Chaldean army in the time of king Jehoiakim, afforded to the 
prophet Jeremiah an occasion, of which he was directed to 
avail himself, of administering a significant rebuke to the 

These were the Rechabites, of whom we seem to learn from 
I Chron. ii. 55, that they were identical with or a branch of the 

^ The Chrutiaw Physiologist. London, 1830. 

262 Twenty-first Week — Second Day, 

Kenites, who were of the family of Jethro, the father-in-law of 
Moses, and came with the Israelites into Palestine, and there 
continued to lead their former mode of life, as in the instance 
of Heber the Kenite (Judges iv. ii). When, therefore, we are 
told that Jonadab, the son (descendant) of Rechab — ^who is 
generally conceived to be the person of the same name and 
designation who lived in the time of Jehu, and whose apparent 
sanction to his proceedings that commissioned exterminator 
deemed important — ^when we are told that this person imposed 
upon his family the obligation never to build houses, but always 
to dwell in tents ; and never to sow com, or cultivate vineyards, 
or drink wine, he did not impose upon them any new law of 
life, but bound them to the conservation of their then existing 
and ancient usages. All these, in feet, except the last, are such 
as belong to this form of life ; and the last also now belongs to 
it among all the tribes of like- habit in Western Asia, wine being 
forbidden to them as to other Moslems. The reason why Jona- 
dab added this to the proper peculiarities of their condition, 
may be supposed to be that they might not be tempted to plant 
vineyards in order to obtain ^ne, and thereby become fixed to 
particular localities, and insensibly sink into (or rise into) culti- 
vators of the soil. By prohibiting the two principal branches 
of culture, this was rendered impossible so long as his injunc- 
tion should be observed. It is possible that the Kenites had, 
in his time, evinced some disposition to exchange their mode 
of life for the settled, and, as it may have seemed to them, the 
more comfortable one of the Hebrews among whom they so- 
journed, and that Jonadab was averse to this alteration, and 
took measures to prevent it in the Rechabite branch of the 
family. There is no reason to suppose that in this he had 
any religious or ascetic motives, but merely, the prudential one 
which he assigns : * That ye may live many days in the land 
where ye be strangers.* This has been variously understood. 
We take it to mean, that seeing the land was divided among 
the tribes and families of Israel, any attempt on their part to 
become proprietors and cultivators of land, would speedily bring 
them into collision with the Israelites, and end in their expul- 

The Rechabites. 263 

sion firom the country. From the unquestioned use of the 
commons and open pastures, they derived great advantage in 
their existing condition of life. 

To this people Jeremiah was instructed to offer wine. It is 
observable that he said only, ^ Drink ye wine :' not the custo- 
mary formula, which would have given it the shape of, * Thus 
saith the Lord, Drink ye wine ; ' for it is probable, indeed it is 
all but certain, that they would then have obeyed ; the obliga- 
tion of obedience to a command thus enforced, being far greater 
than that of obedience to the injunction of their ancestor. As 
it was, they felt themselves at hberty respectfully to decline this 
invitation. They said, ' We do not drink wine ;' and proceeded 
to give the interesting recital of their forefather's injunction, 
which they afiirmed had always been strictly obeyed during the 
three hundred years which had elapsed since it was delivered. 

Upon this Jeremiah proceeded, with great force, to contrast 
this regard of the Rechabites to the simple injunctions of their 
long since deceased ancestor, with the Israelites' habitual neglect 
of the Lord's warnings and commands, though pressed upon 
them with constant urgency by his servants the prophets. 

Then he commended the Rechabites for their faithfulness, 
sa3ring, 'Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, 
Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your 
father, and kept all his precepts, and done according to all that 
he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith the Lord of 
Hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not 
want a man to stand before me for ever.' 

This promise has attracted great attention, reasonably sug- 
gesting diat the Rechabites are still in existence, and may yet be 
found. We abstain from repeating the attempts that have been 
made to trace them historically in the later history of the Jews. 
It may suffice to state, that some suppose they went into cap- 
tivity with the Jews and returned with them. This we doubt. 
Pastoral tribes do not go into captivity, as it is always open to 
them to flee into the deserts, where they cannot be followed, 
and where they only can subsist Besides, the Chaldeans took 
no cs^tives but of the sort of people they needed ; and they 

264 Twenty-first Week— Third Day. 

were not likely to want nomade tribes, which were already but 
too abundant in their territories and upon their borders. We 
therefore agree with those who think it more probable that they 
withdrew into Arabia \ and if they did so, it is not very likely 
that they would return into Palestine after the captivity. 

The question is, therefore, whether any trace of them can 
be found among the Arabian tribes. It must confessedly be 
difficult to distinguish them now, because the only distinctive 
feature of their external condition, that of abstinence from wine, 
is in the present day common to all the Arab tribes. It might, 
however, be possible that we should find a tribe of Bedouin 
habits of life, observing certain Jewish usages, and acquainted 
with the Hebrew Scriptures. But we should have no ground 
on which to conclude that these were Rechabites — they might 
be a tribe of Bedouin Jews. Such we know there were in and 
before the time of Mohammed, and such there may be now. 
Assuming that the ancient Rechabites were proselytes to the 
Jewish religion, as seems to be evinced by the fact that Jere- 
miah took them into the temple, we could only identify them 
by finding that they added to Bedouin habits and Jewish know- 
ledge a claim to this origin, and that, although Jews in religion, 
they abstained from wine. Only on these two narrow grounds 
would it be possible to distinguish them from Bedouin Jews on 
the one hand, and from Bedouin Arabs on the other. The in- 
formation which requires to be tested by these rules must engage 
our attention to-morrow. 


In the twelfth century a learned Jewish Rabbi of Tudela, in 
Spain, hence known as Benjamin of Tudela, undertook an ex- 
tensive journey with the view of visiting the various Jewish 
communities dispersed through the East, and of ascertaining 
their numbers and condition. On his return he published the 

Modern Rechabites. 265 

results in Hebrew, in the shape of an itinerary. This work is 
in some parts obscure from its extreme conciseness, and it is 
not free from the exaggerations and wild reports which mark 
the writings of that age. This, for a time, threw discredit on 
the whole performance ; but latterly, the statements of Rabbi 
Benjamin have been, by our better information, substantiated 
in so many particulars, that, as in the case of many old 
travellers, from Herodotus downward, his credit has been in a 
great degree restored, and he is regarded as certainly intending 
to be truthful, and as actually truthful in what he reports of his 
own knowledge, though he exercised little critical judgment in 
sifting the reports of others. 

This work has been translated into many languages. The 
best and latest in our own is, curiously enough, by the learned 
German-Jewish bookseller, Mr. Asher of Berlin.^ From this 
we copy the following with regard to the Rechabites. Arrived 
at Pombeditha on the Euphrates, where he found three thousand 
Jews with theu: synagogues, sepulchres, and colleges, he reports 
seemingly what he heard there of the Jews far to the south 
in Arabia. He says : * Twenty-one days' journey through the 
desert of Sheba or Al-Yemen, from which Mesopotamia hes in 
a northerly direction, are the abodes of the Jews who are called 
B'ne (children of) Rekhab, men of Thema." The seat of their 
government is Thema, or Tehama, where their prince and 
governor. Rabbi Chanon, resides. The city is large, and the 
extent of their country is sixteen days* journey towards the 
northern mountain range. They possess large and strong cities, 
and are not subject to any of the Gentiles, but imdertake war- 
like expeditions into distant provinces with the Arabians, their 
neighbours and allies, ^^ to take the spoil and to take the prey." 
The Arabians are Bedouins, who live in tents in the deserts, 
and have no fixed abode, and who are in the habit of under- 

^ Published in London, but obviously, from the cut of the type, printed in 
Germany. It is in two volumes, — ^the first comprising the Hebrew text 
and translation, with bibliography ; the second, a large body of learned and 
curious notes, etc. 

' Asher identifies this with the Tema of Isa. xxi. 14, Jer. xxv. 23. 

266 Twenty-first Week — Third Day. 

taking marauding expeditions in the province of Yemen. The 
Jews are a terror to their neighbours ; their country being very 
extensive, some of them cultivate the land, and some catde. 
A number of learned and studious men, who spend their lives 
in the study of the law, are maintained by the tithes of all 
produce, part of which is employed towards maintaining the 
poor, and ascetics called Mourners of Tsion, and Mourners of 
Jerushalaim. These eat no meat, dress always in black, live 
in caves or in low houses, and keep fasts all their Hves except 
on Sabbaths and holy days. They continually implore the 
mercy of God for the Jews in exile, and devoutly pray that He 
may have compassion upon them for the sake of his own great 

But that he caUs them * sons of Rekhab * (Rechab), it would 
be difficult to recognise anything of the Rechabites in all this. 
They neither dwell in tents, nor abstain from the culture of the 
ground, nor from wine ; for those who do so abstain are de- 
scribed as ascetics — and that they abstain, shows that the 
general body did not. Besides, they abstain from flesh also, 
which was not forbidden to the Rechabites, and which was 
indeed their proper food as a pastoral people. Moreover, that 
these ascetics,' though habitual abstinents, did not fast on the 
Sabbaths and holy days, proves them to be (as Niebuhr con- 
jectured) Talmudical Jews, fasting on these days being for- 
bidden in the Talmud. Upon the whole, therefore, and sup- 
posing the story true, or partly true, we cannot perceive in this 
people the marks which should distinguish them from the Arabs 
on the one hand, or from the Jews on the other. We should 
be more assured did we recognise these signs. But, on the 
other hand, Jeremiah does not foretell that the Rechabites 
should always retain the habits of life imposed by Jonadab, 
but only that their race should never become extinct We do 
not know that change would be imputed as an offence to them, 
since, with the captivity, and with their removal from Canaan, 
the cause for these restrictions ceased ; and that the Rechabites 
did not regard the command of their father as oveiruling in all 
cases (as a command from God would) the exercise <^ their 

Modern Rechabites. 267 

own judgment according to the necessity of circumstances, is 
clear; for, notwithstanding the command to dwell in tents, 
they went and lived in Jerusalem in a time of danger. The 
strongest circumstance is, that the people claimed to be sons 
of Rechab. People do not, without some ground, claim an 
inferior rank ; and a Jewish people would count it a far greater 
honour to be descended from one of the twelve tribes, than 
from Jonads^b the son of Rechab. Even the fact of their being 
Talmudical Jews wotdd not affect their claim in this respect 
Their peculiarities were not religious, but social ; and if they 
had become Jews, as we doubt not they had, they were subject, 
as much as the other Jews in Arabia, to the influences of Tal- 
mudical teaching. 

We catch further glimpses of this people from travellers, who, 
however, seem to know them only as Jews. Varthema, in the 
fifteenth century, speaks of Arabian Jews, potent and cruel, 
secured more by deserts and hills than by any greatness of 
their own. Niebuhr is, as usual, more explicit and exact than 
any preceding traveller. He tells that the highlands of the 
Hedjaz were possessed by a number of independent sovereign 
sheikhs, of whom little was known, except that they lived in 
houses and villages during part of the year, and (at least some 
of them) in tents during another part. The most remarkable 
and least known of these highland communities, was one which 
had been formed by Jews in the mountains lying north-east of 
Medina. This tract of country is called Kheibar, and the Jews 
belonging to it are called by the Arabs Beni Kheibar. They 
had independent sheikhs of their own, and were divided into 
three tribes. They were so odious to the Mohammedans for 
tiieir predatory attacks upon the caravans, that in Syria the 
greatest affront that could be offered to a man was to call him 
Ben Kheibar. It did not appear that these Jews kept up any 
intercourse with their brethren dispersed over Asia. * When I 
asked the Jews in Syria concerning them,' says Niebuhr, ' they 
told me that those false brethren durst not claim their fellow- 
ship, for that they did not observe the law^ This is certainly in 
&vour of their claim to be Rechabites, and might go to suggest 

268 Twenty-first Week — Third Day. 

that they did not follow the law according to its Talmudical 
interpretations. Niebuhr finds evidence that *this branch of 
the Jews must have subsisted for more than twelve (now 
thirteen) centuries.' Beyond that, the trace is lost 

More recently Dr. Wolff, the Jewish missionary, heard much 
of these people. * The Jews not only of Jerusalem, but like- 
wise those of Yemen, told me that the Rechabites, mentioned 
in Jeremiah xxxv., were still existing around Mecca. The 
Mussulmans who performed their pilgrimage to Mecca con- 
firmed that account; the latter knew them by the name of 
Khaibaree.' This identifies them with those of whom Niebuhr 
speaks. At Jalooha, in Mesopotamia, one was pointed out to 
him as belonging to this people. ^ I saw one before me stand- 
ing, dressed and wild like an Arab, the bridle of his horse 
holding in his hand. I showed him the Bible in Hebrew and 
Arabic ; he read both languages, and was rejoiced to see the 
Bible ; he was not acquainted with the New Testament After 
having proclaimed to him the tidings of salvation, and made 
him a present of the Hebrew and Arabic Bibles and Testa- 
ments, I asked him, Whose descendant are you ? 

* Mousa — (This was his name), with a loud voice — Come, 
I show to you; and then he began to read Jeremiah xxxv., 
firom verse 5 to ii. 

* Wolff—^^NYiSx^ do you reside ? 

^ Mousa — (Recurring to Genesis x. 27) — At Hadoram, now 
called Samar by the Arabs, at ysal, now called Sanaa by the 
Arabs, and (Genesis x. 30) at Mesha, now called Mecca, in the 
deserts around those places. We drink no wine, and plant no 
vineyard, and sow no seed, and live in tents, as Jonadab our 
father commanded us. Hobab was our father too. Come to 
us ; you will still find 60,000 in number ; and you see thus the 
prophecy has been fulfilled : " Therefore thus saith the Lord, 
Jonadab, the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand 
before me for ever." And saying this, Mousa the Rechabite 
mounted his horse, and fled away, and left behind him a host 
of evidence of sacred writ.' 

Previously, in the very quarter where Rabbi Benjamin got 

Modern Rechabites, 269 

his information, Wolff writes in his journal : * All the Jews of 
this country believe that the Beni Khaibr, near Mecca and 
Medinah, are the descendants of the ancient Rechabites.' 

Subsequently he met, at Ispahan, in Persia, with a Jew from 
Yemen ; and when Wolff asked him, * Do you know the Jews, 
Khaibr ?' he replied, * You mean the children of Rechab ? 
They are mighty men, and have not felt the yoke of captivity ' 
(and then he joyfully lifted up his fingers, and moved them 
about), and said, * They are the descendants of Jonadab the 
son of Rechab, who said, etc. And thus they do — ^the children 
of Ishmael curse them, and we bless them.' 

Lately some further information respecting this interesting 
people has been furnished by Rabbi Joseph Schwartz, in his 
Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine, 
published at Philadelphia in 1850. After showing that the 
Rechabites were descendants of Heber the Kenite, and more 
remotely of Jethro, and producing evidence from the Rab- 
binical writings that they eventually settled in Yemen, a long 
statement ensues, of which the following is an abstract : 

* There are many traces of them at present ; they live entirely 
isolated, will not be recognised, and shun, or rather hate, all 
intercourse and every connection with the other Jews. They 
only sojourn in Arabia, and for the most part on the western 
shores of the Red Sea, and are engaged solely in the raising of 
cattle. In the vicinity of Junbua, a seaport on the eastern 
shore of the Red Sea, they are found at times labouring as 
smiths, and have commercial connections with other Arabic 
tribes, (that is) they barter with them. They are called Arab 
Sebh {i.e. Arabs who keep the seventh day), are generally 
esteemed and feared ; so that they form, so to say, a gigantic 
people, whose power and greatness excite fear. They only 
speak Hebrew and Arabic, and will form no connection or 
acquaintance with the Jews ; and should they be recognised as 
Jews, or if one should enter into conversation with them on the 
subject, they will quickly deny their origin, and assert that they 
are but of common Arabic descent. They will not touch 
another Arab, much less will they eat anything with him, even 

270 Twenty-first Week — Third Day. 

those things which are permitted to Jews; and they always 
stay at some distance from the other Arabs, should their barter 
trade at times bring them together^ so as not to come into any 
mediate or immediate contact They alwa3rs appear on horse- 
back, and armed ; and people assert that they have noticed the 
fringes, commanded in Scripture, on their covering and dothes. 
They are occasionally seen in Palestine, but very seldom, and 
then, as it were, in secrecy and unrecognised. Some even say 
that several have been met with in Jerusalem, but never make 
themselves known, although the reaison of this singular silence, 
and the anxious desire to escape detection, has remained 
hitherto a profound secret. At the same time, it is clearly 
ascertained that they are Jews in every sense of the word — ^livc 
according to the Jewish laws, and also possess some knowledge 
of the learned KjEibbis who flourished in the early ages of the 
Christian era.' 

An anecdote, in proof of this last point, is given ; and die 
fact shows that they must have been at some time subject to 
Rabbinical teaching. 

The result of the whole seems to be, that this people is 
known only as Jews to the Arabs — and hence the reports of 
travellers who have derived their accounts from Arabian infor- 
mation. But those who derive their infonnation from Jewish 
sources recognise them as Rechabites, which they themselves 
claim to be. They are unwilling to be taken for Jews in thdr 
own country, resting more upon the rights of their Arabian 
descent than upon die degree in which they have adopted the 
Jewish religion, while proud of the testimony which the monu- 
ments of that religion bear to their history and their faithfulness. 

From these particulars, which we have been at some pains to 
bring together, it is not difficult to perceive the real position of 
this people ; and we see that the greater exactness of modem 
inquiry has strengthened the probability contained in Rabbi 
Benjamin's first information concerning them, that in diis 
people we find the ancient Rechabites. Still, the evidence 
must be taken for what it is worth ; and it must be borne in 
mind, that the £ax:t that the Rechabites maintain at this day 

Hidden Stores in the Fields. 271 

a descent recognisable by others^ or even by themselves, is 
by no means necessaiy to the corroboration of Jeremiah's 
prophecy. Although the family should not be at this day 
known, our ignorance is no evidence that it does not exist. A 
genealogical series may perish from the knowledge of men, but 
not from the nature of things, and from the knowledge of God. 
Though the seeds of wheat, barley, and other grain n:iay be 
mixed together, so that men cannot distinguish them, yet their 
distinction has not perished ; and God not only knows it, but 
also discoveis it, when He makes every seed to rise in its own 

SCtomtj-firttt ^jek— Jfottrtj^ gag. 


There is a veiy remarkable incident in the account of the 
proceedings of Ishmael, who, after the Babylonians had with- 
drawn their forces, came up with a band of men from the land 
of Ammon, in which he had been sojourning, and treacherously 
slew the unsuspicious Gedaliah, whom the Chaldeans had ap- 
pointed' governor of the remnant left in the land. Gedaliah, 
although warned, could not be brought to believe that Ishmael 
had any evil intentions against him. This too generous con- 
fidence was repaid by his destruction, with that of his adher- 
ents present at Mizpah (which had been made the seat of his 
government), as weU as of the small band of Chaldean soldiers 
which had been left with him for his protection. The exact 
, object of this atrocity does not appear ; but as Ishmael was of 
' the seed royal,' it is probable that he was disgusted to see a 
person not of the royal line, governor of the impoverished land ; 
and, moreover, that he regarded Gedaliah with hatred, as one who 
had stooped to hold office under the destroyers of his coimtiy. 
The deed being done, Ishmael, aware of what might be 
expected when it transpired, from the vengeance of the 
Chaldeans on the one hand, and, from that of the people 
of Samaria, who had long been in quiet subjection to the 

272 Twenty-first Week — Fourth Day. 

Chalaeans, on the other, was anxious to keep it close, trntil 
he should have completed his arrangements for returning with 
his spoil and captives into the land of the Ammonites. He 
was, therefore, under some alarm on hearing, only the second 
day after he had slain Gedaliah, that a body of fourscore per- 
sons from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, were ad- 
vancing towards the place, which lay on the road to Jerusalem, 
' having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having 
cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand to 
bring them to the house of the Lord/ Whether these were 
Samaritans, properly so called, that is, colonists whom the 
Assyrians had formerly brought' in to supply in part the place 
of the exiled Israelites, or were of the remnant of native 
Israelites whom the conquerors had left in the land, has 
been questioned. We shall not raise the inquiry; but the 
only plausible objection against their being of the former 
class has no real weight. It is uiged that they would not 
worship at Jerusalem. But this was only the case in a later 
age, when the Jews had refused to allow them any interest in 
the restored temple, and they had been induced, in consequence, 
to set up a temple of their own upon Mount Gerizim. Until 
then, they were always anxious to take part in the temple 
services, and claimed an interest in them ; and the antagonism 
into which they were eventually thrown, in this respect, was 
the work of the Jews themselves, who, rightly or wrongly we 
say not, sternly refused to acknowledge that they had any part 
or lot in the matter. 

Be this as it may, what was that * house of the Lord' to 
which they were proceeding with their oblations ? seeing that the 
temple of Jerusalem had been already destroyed by fire. Some 
think that Gedaliah had built an altar at Mizpah, which was 
one of the old covenanted places of assembly to the people, 
and had organized some kind of worship there. Others object 
to this, that an altar is not called * the house of the Lord.' * 
But on this objection we lay little stress, remembering that 
Jacob declared that the stone which he had set up at Luz 

1 Blayney's Jereniiah, on this text. 

Hidden Stores in the Fields. 273 

should be ' God's house,* which, indeed, that place was after- 
wards called (Bethel), when he had at a later period made 
an altar and offered worship there. Nevertheless, seeing that 
Gedaliah was a well-instructed man, and that the prophet 
Jeremiahy who was present at Mizpah, and was himself a 
priest, would have been likely to mention this fact had it 
occurred, and would undoubtedly have used his influence to 
prevent its occurrence, as a dangerous irregularity, had it been 
attempted, we are disinclined to accept this interpretation; 
and seeing that these persops evidently appear as mourners 
for the desolation of the temple, we conceive that they were 
proceeding to Jerusalem, where probably those priests who had 
not been carried away by the Chaldeans had, with the permis- 
sion of the governor, set up among the ruins an altar, at which 
the offerings of any remaining worshippers might be presented. 
This is rendered the more likely by tlie fact, that when the 
Jews returned from captivity, the first thing they did was to 
set up an altar on the site of the old one, and celebrate upon 
it the ordinary sacrificial worship. 

As his bloody deed was not yet known beyond the walls of 
Mizpah, and dreading lest these men should come to the 
knowledge of it, and rouse the country against him, before 
he had wholly completed his purpose, Ishmaelresolved to cut 
them off. To this end it was needfiil to get them into the 
town, as such a slaughter in the open country would speedily 
be known. So he went out^ to intercept them, weeping as he 
went, as if under equal concern with them for the ruin of the 
land and the destruction of the temple. After some discourse, 
he invited them into the town to see Gedaliah, speaking of him 
as one still alive, and whom he held in high respect This 
was doubtless either to ascertain whether they had heard of his 
murder, or else suggesting that the governor would gladly re- 
ceive and liberally entertain them. The pilgrims, unsuspicious 
of guile, readily accompanied him ; but no sooner had he got 
them into the midst of the city than he fell upon them and 
slew them, casting their bodies into a great pit, which already 
held the corpses of the men slain with Gedaliah. Of this pit 

VOL. VI. s 

2 74 Twenty-first Week— Fourth Day. 

the curious fact, not elsewhere mentioned, is recorded, that it 
was the same pit which had been made by king Asa, * for fear 
of Baasha, king of Israel.' We know that Asa fortified Mizpah 
— I Kings XV. 22 — as a frontier stronghold against the northern 
kingdom; and it is reasonable to suppose, that as this pit appears 
to have been in the heart of the town, it was a great reservoir to 
contain water, in case of a protracted siege. 

Ten men only were spared. They had the presence of mind 
to urge that 'they had hidden stores in the fields,'* the secret 
of which was' known only to themselves, consisting of wheat, 
barley, oil, and honey. This is an interesting indication of the 
custom, not elsewhere mentioned in Scripture, but frequent in 
the East and still subsisting, of people burying their com and 
other provisions in deep pits or caverns, which were dug and 
covered over so very dexterously, that none but those who 
made the deposit could find them out, or even detect that the 
earth had been moved. It happens, even at the present day, 
that in time of war people are often spared and receive good 
treatment from the soldiers, on promising to make known their 
hidden stores in the fields. 

Perhaps this practice is seen in the most extensive operation 
in Morocco. Mr. Urquhart tells us, that on the spot where 
the com is harvested, ' it is thrashed, winnowed, and treasured 
up. Holes are dug in the earth and lined with straw ; these 
are called matamores ; there the grain may be kept a hundred 
or a thousand years, protected fi-om rot, mildew, and rain. By 
this practice they are secured against the uncertainties of the 
seasons and the fluctuation in price. These reservoirs, when 
forgotten, may be discovered by examining the verdure in 
spring, when it begins to lose its fireshness. Over the matamore 
the change is first perceptible, as it is drier beneath. Twenty 
years ago, four or five successive harvests were destroyed by 
drought and locusts : famine and pestilence ensued ; and but 
for these stores, the country must have been depopulated." 

* Blayney. Henderson has, * Provisions hid in the field.' 
^ Pillars of Hercules, i. 409, 410. In a note this writer says : * The 
Lydians had the same practice. It may account for their enduring the 

Hidden Stores in the Fields, 275 

It IS clear, however, that subterraneous granaries, so con- 
structed, could only be available in dry countries. 

Subterraneous granaries are largely made use of at the present 
day in many parts of Palestine. All villages situated in, or on the 
exposed borders of, the plains of Philistia, Sharon, Esdraelon, and 
Bashan, have great numbers of large caves hewn in the rock, with 
narrow openings, which are easily concealed. In these the grain, 
when threshed, is stowed away, and is thus secure against sudden 
raids of the Bedawin. I have myself seen hundreds of them — some 
full, some being filled, and some empty. In the dry climate of 
Palestine, the grain stored in them keeps perfectly fresh and good. 

In southern Palestine, near the ruins of the ancient city of 
Eleutheropolis, there are immense numbers of very remarkable 
caverns, which were manifestly intended not merely for storing 
grain, but for residences. As caves are frequently mentioned in 
Scripture, it may be interesting to the reader to hear a description 
of thenu The limestone ridges which enclose the valley south of 
Eleutheropolis, are almost filled with caverns. They are entirely 
dififerent in character from the excavations of Petra, and the tombs 
of Jerusalem. They occur in large groups, like subterranean vil- 
lages. * Besides domes,* says l3r. Robinson, * there are here also 
long arched rooms, with the walls, in general, cut quite smooth. 
One of these was nearly loo feet in length, having along its sides, 
about ten feet from the floor, a line of ornamental work, like a 
cornice. These apartments are all lighted by openings from above. 
The entrance to the whole range of caverns was by a broad arched 
passage of some elevation ; and we were surprised at the taste and 

long famine, which led to the emigration of the Tyrseni [Tyrrheni], and 
for the provisioning of their ships.* He then gives a reference (a wrong 
one) to Drummond*s Origines; but that learned writer says nothing of 
this, although he derides Herodotus for stating that they were enabled to« 
sustain a famine of twenty-two years (according to some copies eighteen 
years) by fasting every other day, and amusing themselves by playing at 
various games in the intervals to kill time ; and yet stating, that although 
driven to this resource, they were able at the end of that period to victual 
the fleet, which was to convey half their population to another land. That 
they were, during this long period, supplied from such 'stores in the fields,' 
and that the fleet was victualled from them, is certainly a more probable 
account of the matter. 

276 Twenty-first Week — Fifth Day. 

skill displayed in the workmanship.' Such is one group. About a 
mile from the town is another, still more remarkable. The caves 
occupy the whole interior of a little conical hill of soft chalky rock 
These are also well described by Robinson : — ' Lighting several 
candles, we entered by a narrow and difficult passage, and found 
ourselves in a dark labyrinth of galleries and apartments, all cut 
from the solid rock. Here were some dome-shaped chambers; 
others were extensive rooms, with roofs supported by columns of 
the same rock left in excavating ; and all were connected with each 
other by passages apparently without order or plan. Several other 
apartments were still more singular. These were also in the form 
of tall domes, twenty feet or more in diameter, and from twenty to 
thirty high. They were entered by a door near the top, from which 
a staircase cut in the rock wound down around the wall to the 

I also visited and explored some enormous artificial caverns in 
Bashan, especially at Kenath and Edrei. It would appear, in 
fact, that in those exposed localities, the inhabitants were accus- 
tomed, in cases of sudden emergency, to transport all their valu- 
ables, with their wives and families, and even their flocks, to these 
subterranean strongholds, and to keep them there until the danger 
had passed. 


Of the four great prophets, two were priests who were con- 
temporary. These were Jeremiah and Ezekiel. But while 
the former took an active part in the stirring circumstances 
of the times, and was subjected to much personal injury and 
wrong, the latter, already in the land of exile, regarded from 
afar, and in personal quiet^ the strange events passing in the 
land from which he had been removed, and took part in them 
only in mind and spirit. Hence less of the man appears in the 
prophecy of Ezekiel — ^less of personal history, of individual 
character, of human emotion. We know, in fact," very little 
about him. 

EzekieL 277 

In the year 599 B.C. Jehoiachin (or Jeconiah), king of Judah, 
was obliged, after a brief reign of three months, to submit to 
the king of the Chaldeans, and was led away into exile, to- 
gether with many principal persons of the court and nation — 
nearly the first-fruits of that harvest for captivity which the 
Chaldeans eventually gathered even to the gleanings. That 
the priest Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, was of this early captivity, 
would alone show that he was a person of consequence. He 
belonged, indeed, to a distinguished sacerdotal family, and is 
seen, from chap, xi., to have been intimately connected with 
the principal priesthood. 

It is generally supposed that Ezekiel left his native land 
when young ; but there is no proof of this, and the probabilities 
are against it. The mature and vigorous priestiy spirit that 
prevails in his prophecies (taken in connection with the fact 
that the word of the Lord came to him in the fifth year of 
Jehoiachin's captivity), furnishes evidence of more advanced 
age. Undoubtedly, also, he had served as a priest in the 
temple, the plundering of which by Nebuchadnezzar he had 
witnessed ;^ for he discovers the most accurate knowledge of 
the ancient sanctuary in its individual parts, which must have 
been very deeply impressed upon his senses and his memory. 
The comparatively not lengthened space of twenty-seven years, 
which, as far as we are informed, was the duration of his stay 
in exile,* agrees also with this view, as there is no account of 
his having survived that period. 

Ezekiel was, during his exile, stationed in the northern part 
of Mesopotamia, at Tel Abib, oii the banks of the river Che- 
bar. His family was with him. ' It should not escape notice, 
that at this place the exiles from Judah, of whom Ezekiel was 
one, would meet the earlier exiles of the ten tribes, some of 
whom had been stationed there. This fact gives increased 
emphasis to the frequency of the prophet's warnings, from the 
example of desolated Israel. It was not, however, until Ezekiel 
had been five years at Tel Abib, that he was called to the 

' 2 Kings xxiv. 15. 2 Compare Ezek. i. i with xxix. 17. 

3 See Ezek. iii. 24, viii. i, xxiv. 18. 

278 Twenty-first Week^Fifth Day. 

exercise of the prophetic office. The embassy which king 
Zedekiah sent at that date to Babylon, and the letter which 
Jeremiah sent by that embassy,^ fall in with his call, and may 
be regarded as connected with it. Then, in a remarkable 
vision, he receives his commission to come forth among his 
people as a prophet, with a disclosure of the principal matters 
to be announced to them. Commencing from this time, the 
functions of the prophet appear before us in his book as form- 
ing a beautifully complete, a stately and harmonious whole. 
They fall into two grand divisions, of which the destruction of 
Jerusalem forms the turning point.' During the period before 
this catastrophe, the prophet chiefly uses the language of rebuke 
and condemnation ; afterwards, of consolation and promise. 

The influence which Ezekiel exercised upon his contem- 
poraries is of the highest importance. As the prophets in the 
days of Elijah and Elisha supplied, in the kingdom of Israel, 
the absence of a true sanctuary, and sought, as far as possible, 
to occupy the place of the lacking priests of Jehovah ; so the 
priest Ezekiel, by virtue of his prophetic calling, afforded to the 
deserted exiles a living witness that the Lord had not abandoned 
them, and that even for them a sanctuary existed, in which 
they might perceive the gracious presence of God. The more 
imposing the public appearance of Ezekiel was, and the more 
desolate and troublous the time of his appearance, the more 
powerful must have been the influence he exercised. We see 
proof of this in those accounts which show that the people and 
their elders, even from the earliest period of his ministry, 
gathered around the prophet, and listened to his words.* In 
the words of God to the prophet, it is implied that the people 
were accustomed, at appointed times, to come to Ezekiel, to 
sit before him, and to receive his instruction with reverence. 
He was regarded as a public teacher, who appointed meetings 
in his house as at a public school, and there, before a crowded 
assembly, interpreted the divine will. Nor was this influence 

* Jer. xxix. 1-3. * Ezek, i. xxxii. and xxxiii.-xlviii. 

^ Compare Ezek. viii. i, xi. 25, xiv, i, xx. i, xxiv. 18 et sej,, jjaaiL 

Zh 32. 

EzekieL 2 79 

transitory or confined to his own generation, but it continued, 
and was ^uch more comprehensive. If the book of Dapiel be 
understood to have had much influence in the formation of the 
views of later Judaism, it belonged to Ezekiel to exercise an 
analogous influence during the period of the exile. When we 
perceive among the exiles a remarkable change in their relation 
to the law — ^when we observe the colony that returned home 
cleaving to the law vrith an earnestness and constancy before 
unknown, — an essential share in the production of this phe- 
nomenon must be ascribed to the labours of such a man as 
Ezekiel. Without his positive influence upon the people, the 
unity which they preserved in so trying a period, and which 
they afterwards guarded with so much decision and tenacity, 
would be scarcely explicable. It cannot be doubted that the 
prophet himself was permitted to witness — what was denied to 
Jeremiah — the commencement of this favourable and hopeful 
change in the hearts of his people.^ 

Of the prophet's death, there is no authentic record ; but 
his tomb exists at no great distance from Hillah, on the 
Euphrates. A curious account of this is given by the Rabbi 
Benjamin of Tudela : — 

' Three parasangs from thence [from Napacha, which is half 
a day's journey from Hillah], stands the synagogue of the pro- 
phet Ezekiel, who rests in peace. The place of the synagogue 
is fronted by sixty towers, the room between every two of which 
is also occupied by a synagogue ; in the court of the largest 
stands the ark, and behind it is the sepulchre of Ezekiel Ben 
Buzi, the priest. This monument is covered by a large cupola, 
and the building is very handsome. It was erected by Jeconiah 
king of Judah, and the 35,000 Jews who went along with him, 
when Evil-merodach released him from the prison, which was 

^ Full information on all points respecting the book of Ezekiel may be 
found in the Introduction {Einleiiung) to Dr. Havernick's Commentary 
{Commentar iiber den Propheten EzechieL Erlangen, 1843). Of this intro- 
duction (of which we have here made free use) there are two English 
translations — one in the Journal of Sacred Literature for January 1848, 
and another in the (American) Bihliotheca Sacra^ in the August number of 
the same year. 

28o Twenty-first Week — Fifth Day. 

situated between the river Chaboias and another river. The 
names of Jeconiah, and of all those who came with him, are 
inscribed on the wall — the king's name first, that of Ezekiel 
last The place is considered holy, even to the present day, and 
is one of those to which people resort firom remote countries, 
particularly at the season of the new year and atonement day. 
Great rejoicings take place there about this time, which are 
attended even by the prince of the captivity, and the presi- 
dents of the colleges at Baghdad. The assembly is so large, 
that their temporary abodes coyer twenty-two miles of open 
grotmd, and it attracts many Arabian merchants^ who keep a 
market or fair. On the day of atonement, the proper lesson of 
the day is read firom a very laige manuscript Pentateuch, in 
fizekiel's own handwriting. A lamp bums night and day in 
the sepulchre of the prophet, and has alwa3rs been kept burn- 
ing since the day he lighted it himself; the oil and wicks are 
renewed as often as necessary. A large house belonging to 
the sanctuary contains a very numerous collection of books, 
some of them as ancient as the second, some even coeval with 
the first temple ; it being the custom, that whoever dies child- 
less bequeaths his books to this sanctuary. The inhabitants of 
the coimtry lead to the sepulchre all foreign Jews who come 
from Media and Persia, to visit it in consequence of vows they 
have perfonned. The noble Mohammedans also resort thither 
to pray, because they hold the prophet Ezekiel — ^upon whom 
be peace— in great veneration, and they call this place 'Dar 
M'licha [agreeable abode] : the sepulchre is also visited by all 
devout Arabs.' 

The tomb is still much fi-equented by Jewish pilgrims. It 
is a laige, clumsy building, without beauty or ornament We 
are unable to say whether it be the same building of which 
Rabbi Benjamin speaks so grandly; or, as is likely, one of 
more recent date erected on the same site. 

A brief chronological note may help to a fuller understanding of 
some of Ezekiel's statements, and of the important period of Jewish 
history during which he lived. 

The kingdom of Israel was overthrown by the Assyrians, and the 

Ezekiel. 281 

people carried away captive in the year B.a 721. The captives 
were settled at Habor, on the river of Gozan, which is written Ckebar 
by Ezekiel, and is the place where the prophet was residing in 
captivity when the spirit of prophecy first came upon him. Ezekiel 
thus prophesied as well to the descendants of the ten tribes, as to 
the captives of Judah. Josiah king of Judah having been slain at 
Megiddo, and his son Jehoahaz, who had been placed on the throne 
by the people, having been set aside by the king of Egypt, Jehoiachim 
was made king in Jerusalem, and became a vassal of the Egyptian 
monarch. Four years afterwards, Nebuchadnezzar defeated the 
Egyptians, and captured Jerusalem. The conqueror took part 
of the ornaments of the temple, and carried with him to Babylon 
some young men, the sons of the principal Hebrew nobles, among 
whom was the prophet Daniel. This occurred in the year B.a 
606, and was the comimencement of the Babylonish captivity, which, 
according to Jeremiah's prophecy, was to continue seventy years. 
Jehoiachin, the son and successor of Jehoiachim, rebelled against 
Babylonian rule in the year B.C 598, but was conquered by Nebu- 
chadnezzar, Jerusalem was again taken, the royal treasury plundered, 
and the temple stripped of its ornaments and utensils. The whole 
cotut, a large number of nobles, artificers, and soldiers, were then 
carried away captive, and settled on the banks of the Chebar. 
Among the captives, was the prophet Ezekiel. Thus Daniel and 
Ezekiel were in captivity together, and Jeremiah remained in his 
native land. 

The divine call of Ezekiel as prophet, took place in the fifth year 
of his captivity (i. 2). He gives another note of time, which may 
not be so easily understood. He says, * Now it came to pass in 
the thirtieth yeari etc. (i. i). The thirtieth year of what ? Various 
eacplanations have been given ; but the most probable theory is, that 
it was the thirtieth year of the new Babylonian epoch, which dated 
from Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar, who began to reign 
B.C. 625. Ezekiel, writing in Babylon, naturally used the era of 
that land. Daniel's prophetic career began in the first year of 
Nebuchadnezzar, or eleven years earlier than that of Ezekiel. The 
latest date mentioned by Ezekiel is the twenty-seventh year of the 
captivity, so that his mission extended over at least twenty-two 
years (xxix. 17). In the eleventh year of his captivity Jerusalem 
was destroyed. Jeremiah appears to have died very soon after- 
wards, but Daniel lived through the entire captivity (Dan.'i. 21). 

There is pne peculiarity in the book of Ezekiel, which is not 

282 Twenty-first Week — Sixth Day. 

found in the writings of his predecessors; The book is arranged in 
chronological order, with the exception of one section (xxix.-xxxii.), 
in which a desire to preserve the unity of the subject has led to an 
interruption of the order of time. The visions and odes of the 
earlier prophets have come down to us as a collection of fragments; 
but EzekieFs writings constitute a complete book. 


In the fourth chapter of Ezekiel we find one of the most re- 
markable and elaborate instances in Scripture 'of instruction, 
warning, and prophecy by symbolical action. The prophet is 
directed to make a representation of Jerusalem upon a tile, 
and, by S)anbolical procedure, to carry on, during a protracted 
period, the operations of a siege, and represent its accompany- 
ing circumstances of calamity and privation. 

The details are curious, interesting, and instructive ; but as 
they have become in some points obscure through the lapse of 
time, or from imperfect knowledge of extern usages, we shall 
endeavour to explain them. 

The direction \.o portray the city upon a tile seems at the first 
view a strange mode of representation. It would have been so 
even in Palestine at the date of the transaction ; but it was the 
most natural and obvious mode of representation that could be 
devised in Chaldea, where, from abundance of actual remains, 
it is now well known that the practice prevailed of writing and 
portraying by indented figures upon broad and thin bricks or 
tiles. Great numbers of such bricks, charged with inscriptions, 
and with figures of animals and other objects, have been found 
among the ancient ruins of Chaldea and Assyria. The bricks 
employed for this use are mostly of fine clay, hardened in the 
fire. They are of various sizes, but usually of a foot square by 
three inches in thickness. In those that have been found, one 
of the broad surfaces is crowded with inscriptions in the wedge- 

The Portraiture of Jerusalem. 283 

shaped character ; and some of them, in addition to the lines 
of inscribed writing, have the figures of animals and other 
objects, with other lines of inscription attached to them. It 
has hence been conjectured, that these tiles comprise public 
and private documents, with the names and seals of witnesses, 
and that the ruined edifices from which they have been ob- 
tained were the repositories of such archives. In fact, the 
second discovery by Mr. Layard, in his last visit to Nineveh, 
of a large chamber filled with such inscribed tiles, places this 
beyond question, and establishes the probability that the record- 
chambers at Babylon and at Ecbatana, which were successively 
explored for the original decree of Cyrus in favour of the Jews, * 
were such chambers as that now discovered, and the records 
like those inscribed on tiles. The object, doubtless, was to 
give them the most enduring shape — as durable as inscription 
on stone, perhaps more durable, while far less expensive and 
cumbersome. There is much reason to hope that the inscrip- ' 
tions on tile and marble actually brought to light, and more, that 
are assuredly yet to be found, will ere long be deciphered, as has 
indeed been already partly done. Colonel Rawlinson expresses 
little doubt of being able to read the contents of this record- 
chamber ; and when this task is accomplished, we shall doubt- 
less acquire large additions to our present imperfect knowledge 
of the remote history of Assyria, Babylonia, and Media, with 
new and valuable materials for the illustration of Scripture. 
Indeed, if the decree of Cyrus had been found at Babylon, 
when the search we have referred to was made, we might have 
cherished the hope of its being again discovered there ; and if 
so, as a version of it exists in the Bible, it would furnish a key 
for the translation of other memorials of the same kind. But 
the decree was found in the record-chamber at Ecbatana in 
Media. This is the modem Hamadan ; and when we visited 
that place, we did not perceive any such mounds or * heaps' 
(to use the scriptural term) as those of the ancient sites of the 
Tigris and Euphrates, the exploration of which might offer the 
hope of any such reward to antiquarian research. 
As to the mode of representation in the case before us, it 

284 Twenty-first Week — Sixth Day. 

may have been by impressing the name or symbol of Jerusalem 
upon the tiie. The direction given to the prophet is, however, 
to 'portray Jerusalem' itself. We incline, therefore, to think 
that the city was actually figured in such a way as to be recog- 
nisable by the exiles whom the prophet addressed, and to whom 
the actual site was familiar. This might be done by means crf 
engraving or indenting, or perhaps by colour, for traces of colour 
have been found upon the bricks of the Assyrian palaces. 
Either way, the representation of a town would be no difficult 
process, according to the mode followed by the Assyrian 
artists, who have left us many representations of towns in thor 
sculptures. It was only needfiil to define the site in a rough 
way, and to mark out upon the conspicuous points one or two 
of the remarkable buildings. The following engraving shows 
how it might be made. Indeed, there is some reason to sup- 
pose that this is an Assyrian representation of Jerusalem ; and 

if so, it is quite within the range of probability that we see in 
it a fac-simile of the portraiture of Jerusalem which appeared 
upon the tile of Ezekiel ; for it may easily be supposed, that 
when ordered to portray that city, the prophet would do so 
afler the fashion of those acknowledged representations of i^ 
so easy to copy, which he had seen on the walls of the Assyrian 
palaces. We say 'had seen,' advisedly; for there is much 
evidence in various allusions to be found in his prophecy, that 
he had seen and noticed with particular attention the ' chambers 
(rf imagery' in these regal abodes ; and if so, he must have re- 

The Symbolical Siege. 285 

garded with especial interest any representations of Jerusalem 
which may have been found in them. 

In regard to the probability of this sculpture being intended 
to represent Jerusalem, there can be no better authority than 
Mr. Bonomi, who is well acquainted with that city, and has 
studied its topography and antiquities. Speaking of this sculp- 
ture in his recent work on Nineveh and its Palaces^ he says : 
*The sculpture represents a fortified city, built upon a con- 
siderable elevation, opposite to which is a still higher craggy 
hill, surmounted by a castellated tower, from the base of which 
a nairow stream flows down into the valley that separates the 
two hills. It is especially to be observed that olive-trees are 
growing upon both the hills, but more particularly on the one 
upon the summit of which is the tower; and that on the hill 
of the city is a walk, or road, about half way up, below which, 
and at the side of the stream, is a row of tombs, or inferior 
houses. The relative situation of these objects exactly re- 
sembles the position of similar objects visible on approaching 
Jerusalem firom the east. On our left we have Mount Moriah 
and the high wall of the temple ; at our feet the brook Kedron, 
and the tombs of the valley of Jehoshaphat, or some inferior 
buildings at the base of Mount Moriah ; and on our left the 
Mount of Olives. The chief objection to this interpretation, is 
the circumstance of the stream taking its rise in the Mount of 
Olives — a topographical inaccuracy, however, that might easily 
be pardoned in the Assyrian artist, if time and the Arabs had 
but spared us the other fiiezes to assist us in interpreting this 
relievo, and the other significant decorations of the chamber.' 


EzEKiEL, having prepared his representation of Jerusalem, pro- 
ceeded to conduct the operations of a siege against it, after the 
process which we have already described sufficiently to render 

286 Twenty 'first Week — Seventh Day. 

further illustration needless. Having finished his fort and his 
mount, and set his battering-rams, the prophet proceeds to lay 
close siege to the city, with an iron baking-pan between him 
and it. This pan must be taken as a s3anbol of the divine 
wrath — like the seething-pot in Jeremiah i. 13 ; and it seems 
to stand for an iron or metallic wall, set up against the too 
late prayers and complaints of a people given over to destruc- 
tion. Before this symbolic wall the prophet impersonates 
another set of symbols, in which he represents the condition of 
the besieged, — ^thus undergoing a double representative action 
— z. thing not unusual in Scripture. In doing this, he is enjoined 
to lie first upon his left side for 390 days, bearing the iniquity 
of the house of Israel, and then to turn and lie upon his right 
side forty days, bearing the iniquity of the house of Judah. 
As this lying upon the right side is connected with immediate 
action, whereas the lying on the left side represents, in part at 
least, that which had already passed, the former seems de- 
signed to bear a peculiar significance, and to denote the severer 
calamity of the two. This significance lying on the right side 
still retains in the East, although it is, we think, contended by 
our medical authorities that men in general lie naturally on the 
right side, and it is most wholesome for them to do so. We 
believe that Mr. Roberts first called attention to this peculiar 
notion of the East, in his Oriental Illustrations ; in which, 
however, it is to be understood that his East is India. He 
reports that, when a person is sick, he will not lie upon his 
right side, because that would be a bad omen ; and should he, 
in his agony, or when asleep, turn on that side, his attendants 
hasten to place him again on the left side. After people have 
taken their food, they generally sleep a little, and then they are 
careful to lie on the left side, under the impression that their 
food digests better. * It is impossible to say what is the origin 
of this practice,' observes our author ; * it may have arisen from 
the circumstance, that' the right side is of the masculine gender, 
and the left feminine.' Hence, although men lie on the right 
side, women are expected to lie on the left. 
Thus lying, the prophet has to represent the famishing con- 

The Symbolical Siege. 287 

dition to which the besieged shall be reduced, by the nature 
and quantity of his food, and by the mode in which he pre- 
pares it 

He is directed to take different kinds of substances capable 
of being made into bread — from the best to the worst, from 
wheat to lentils and beans — and to mix them together for his 
bread, as if to show that the people should be reduced to the 
mere sweepings of their stores, and get so little even of this, 
that they should be constrained to mix them together to form 
a loaf of bread. This is further shown by the careful weighing 
out every day of the small quantity of this food he may take, 
and the measuring out of the water he may drink. 

Further, to indicate the scarcity of fuel in a besieged town 
when supplies from the country can be no longer brought in, 
the prophet was directed to bake his food by the heat of the 
most offensive kind of fuel. Against this his soul revolted, and 
he allowed himself to remonstrate ; and that the burden of his 
representative commission might not be too onerous to him, he 
was graciously permitted to use the dried dung of cattle to dress 
his food. This, however, so far impaired the completeness of 
the representation, because it implied that animals were pre- 
sent in the city, though of necessity they soon die when their 
provender ceases, or the people kill them for their own suste- 

Ezekiel made no objection to the kind of fuel allowed him. 
He .was in fact used to it ; for the dried dung of beasts is used 
for fuel throughout the East wherever wood is scarce, from 
Mongolia ^ to Palestine. Its use indeed extends into Europe, 
and subsists even in England. It is not uncommon in Devon- 
shire for poor women to go out to the lanes in the evenings, 
collecting into baskets the cow-dung that they can find, so 
completely dried by the sun and air as to be quite inoffensive to 
the smell or touch. In the villages of the same county, where 
there is no access to ovens, but where wood for fuel is not 
scarce, this cow-dung is actually preferred for baking bread, on 
account of the length of time during which, when once ignited, 
* See Hue's Travels in Tartary, Thibet^ and China^ passim. 

288 Twenty-first Week — Seventh Day. 

it retains a strong, equable, and concentrated heat. Large 
loaves are baked in this way. The hearth being heated by a 
fire of the same substance, and the dough being then placed 
upon the swept hearth, or upon an iron plate supported upon a 
tripod or upon bricks, an iron * crock ' is turned over it, and 
upon this is heaped the burning fuel, and fresh additions of the 
same being made, the whole is left undisturbed until the bread 
is baked, which is done in a perfect manner, notwithstanding 
the large size of the loaves. 

With regard to the use of this fuel in western Asia, we may 
be permitted to repeat what we said in another work : * In 
some regions of western Asia where wood is scarce, it forms 
the common fuel ; and as the supply is often inadequate to the 
occasions of the people, great anxiety is exhibited in collecting 
a sufficient quantity, and in regulating the consumption. In 
winter we have seen it used in the best rooms of some of the 
most respectable houses in northern Persia; and while tra- 
velling through the same country, and parts of Media and 
Armenia, when we formed our camp, or rested during the mid- 
day heat near the villages, all the children who were old enough 
would come out with baskets and other receptacles, waiting 
long and patiently to receive all the animal dung that occurred, 
to secure which there was often much contention and violence 
among the too numerous claimants for its possession. Cow- 
dung is in all cases preferred ; but that of all other animals is 
considered valuable. When collected, it is made into cakes or 
turves, which are laid out to dry in the sun, and in some places 
are stuck up against the sunny side of the houses, giving tbem 
a curious and somewhat unsightly appearance. When it is 
quite dry it falls off, and is then stowed away in heaps for 
winter use.'^ We may add that these heaps are sometimes 

^ Pictorial Bible on this text The following, from the same work, de- 
scribes the mode of baking : ' In the East they either heat with it a portable 
oven [of earthenware], or an iron plate [supported on a tripod or stones, 
and beneath which is the fire], or else lay their cakes upon the fire of dung. 
But a very common resource, in the want of a plate or an oven, is to form 
the dough into balls, which are placed either among live coals or into a fire 
of dried dung, and covered over with the same, till penetrated by the heat 

Tfie Symbolical Siege. 289 

piled up on the flat roofs of the low cottages in the form of 
truncated cones, imparting to the village a most curious appear- 
ance at some distance, and, when first witnessed, awakening 
many strange conjectures as to the nature of these construc- 
tions, ending in some amusement when the fact is ascertained. 
In India, the peculiar notions of the people respecting the 
sanctity of the cow do not prevent them from using its dung in 
the same way, where wood is scarce. Indeed, Mr. Roberts says 
that ' those who are accustomed to have their food prepared in 
this way prefer it to any other, and tell you it is sweeter and 
more holy, as the fuel comes from the sacred animal.' 

The ashes are then removed, and the bread eaten hot, with much enjoy- 
ment, by the natives ; but it sometimes contracts a flavour and appearance 
which is not pleasant to Europeans.* It is further suggested, that the pro- 
phet intended to provide such cakes or balls, baked in immediate contact 
with the fire ; and that this made him the more abhor the sort of fuel whicli 
was first proposed to him. 


Ctomt8-Sjex:0nir Wktk—imi gag. 


In describing the imminency of the Lord's judgments upon 
Judah, the prophet uses these remarkable expressions: * Behold 
the day, behold it is come ; the morning is gone forth ; f/tc rod 
hath blossofned; pride hath budded.' 

The expression we have specially indicated is in every way 
remarkable, and is full of meaning. The rod is to be under- 
stood as denoting the instrument by which the sins of the 
people were to be punished. In this instance it was Nebu- 
chadnezzar; but the consideration to which it directs us is 
applicable to any case of judgment. It illustrates the Lord's 
deliberateness in executing his judgments, as contrasted with 
man's haste, impatience, and precipitancy. Man, so liable to 
err in judgment and action, and to whom slow deliberation 
in inflicting punishment upon transgressors might seem natu- 
rally to result from his own consciousness of weakness, is in 
haste to judge, and prompt to act ; whereas He who cannot 
err, and whose immediate action must be as true and right as 
his most delayed procedure, works not after the common 
manner of men, but after the manner of a husbandman in 
sowing and planting. When the sin comes to that state, which 
must in the end render judgment needful for the maintenance 
of righteousness upon the earth, and for the vindication of the 
Lord's justice and honour, the rod of punishment is planted ; 
it grows as the sin grows, and it attains its maturity for action 
at the exact time that the iniquity reaches maturity for punish- 
ment. When Israel entered upon that course of sin which 
ended in ruin, the rod of the Babylonian power was planted ; 
and as the iniquities of Israel increased, the rod went on grow- 
ing, until, under Nebuchadnezzar, it became a great tree, over- 



The Rod hath Blossomed. 29 1 

shadowing the nations ; and when -the full term was come, it 
was ripe and ready for the infliction upon Israel of the judg- 
ments which had so often been denounced, and were so greatly 

Exactly the same course was followed in the case of the 
Canaanites wh(Hn the Israelites superseded in the possession 
of Palestine. In that case Israel was the rod of Canaan. The 
rod was planted long before the iniquities of the Canaanites 
were full for judgment ; but when that time arrived, the rod of 
judgment had grown to blossoming, and the long-predicted 
pimishment was no longer withheld. All was ready; the 
sinners were ready for judgment j the rod was ready to 
inflict it. 

The same was the course with Babylon itself — ^in the present 
case the rod of Israel. For her pride, her arrogancy, and her 
unrighteousness, she was doomed to be brought low. The 
prophets foretold it; and they indicated the yet unplanted 
Medo-Fersian rod as the future instrument of her chastisement 
The rod was planted; it grew; and when it blossomed in 
strength, the Lord used it to break in pieces many nations, as 
He had threatened, great Babylon being the first and the chief. 

God deals in the same manner with mankind still. Instances 
might be given from the modem history of nations as signal as 
any that ancient history can produce. No century of time has 
been more replete with them than the present. To produce 
instances would lead into the field of politics, which we avoid. 
But this we can say, that so certainly as any nation enters 
upon, and persists in, a course of unrighteousness, or addicts 
itself to any particular sin, so surely the rod of judgment is 
planted-^so surely will it blossom for chastisement at the set 

To come nearer : As God deals with nations, so does He 
deal with individuals ; there is the same law for both. Whether 
a man professes to be in Christ or not, if he follow any un- 
righteous course — if he cherish any bosom sin, mental or 
practical, of thought or action, — ^let him be assured that the 
rod of judgment is planted, and will in due time bear the 

292 Twenty-second Week—Second Day. 

bitter fruits of shame, fear, and sorrow to him. Because God 
waits till the rod has blossomed, the poor sinner may think 
that God tolerates him, that he may sin without dread, and 
that even to the end his peace shall flow like a river. But 
there is a sad and terrible hour to come, which shall teach 
him, perhaps too late, that the rod of judgment has all the 
while been growing, although he heeded it not, until it sheds 
over him all its blossoms of mourning, lamentation, and woe. 

Nothing is more certain than God's judgments ; nor is there 
any help for us— any refuge, unless, before the rod has blos- 
somed, or even while it is yet blossoming, we flee to Christ, 
and, in that love and pity which redeemed us, seek pardon 
for our sins, and rest for our souls. 

. * Grant, Almighty God, since Thou hast recalled us to thy- 
self, that we may not grow torpid in our sins, nor yet become 
hardened by thy chastisements ; but prevent in time thy final 
judgments, and so humble us under thy powerful hand, that 
we may seriously testify and really prove our repentance ; and 
so study to obey Thee, that we may advance in newness of 
life, until at length we put off all the defilements of the flesh, 
and arrive at the enjoyment of that eternal rest which thine 
only-begotten Son hath acquired for us by his own blood.' 

Such is the beautifiil prayer with which Calvin closes his 
consideration of the passage (verses 9-18), which includes the 
text before us. 



It is a remarkable peculiarity of Ezekiel, that he, more than 
any other, prophet, makes us acquainted with the usages of 
different and remote nations in regard to the subjects of his 
utterances. The different modes in which the several prophets 
produce their declarations on the very same subjects, and the 
different styles in which they illustrate them, as well as the 

Character of Ezekiers Prophecies. 293 

colour they receive from the character and the condition of 
the writer, and from the external influences to which they were 
subjected, are frilly as great and as distinctive as among any 
equal number of uninspired authors, and clearly show, that 
the sacred writers were allowed to invest their oracles with the 
qualities of their own tone of mind, habits of thought, and 
means of observation. The feet exists in their writings, and 
cannot be otherwise accounted for. But this is rendered quite 
compatible with that fulness of inspiration which their intro- 
ductory formula of * Thus saith the Lord * necessarily supposes, 
by assuming that the Divine Spirit was graciously pleased to 
secure the intellectual sympathy of the prophet in the work to 
which he was called, by imparting to him communications in 
the form, and with the circumstances, most congenial to his 
own mind and tastes, and in the form which enabled him the 
more readily to grasp their purport, and to identify himself 
with it in the act of transmitting them to those for whom they 
were intended. 

Some people do not like to speak of the distmctive peculi- 
arities of the matter and manner of each prophet's utterances, 
lest they should bring into question the completeness of their 
inspiration: but the thing does undeniably exist; and under 
the view which we take of this important subject, it becomes 
quite allowable and proper to mark out the distinguishing quali- 
ties which the Lord's messengers evince in their writings. This 
we have freely done as occasion required. And as attention has 
been called to the subject by the peculiarity we have indicated, it 
may be well to consider some other points in which the writings 
of Ezekiel are distinguished from those of the other prophets. 

We may say, then, that the prophecies of Ezekiel are full of 
images, of comparisons, of allegories, of parables, of personifi- 
cations, and of descriptions, in which the prophet depicts his 
objects with such abundance of detail and richness of colour- 
ing, as leave little or nothing for the imagination of the reader 
to supply. When he launches the thunders entrusted to his 
hand against the crimes and prevarications of an apostate 
people, it is always with a vehemence and warmth of feeling 

294 Twenty-second Week — Second Day. 

which no other prophet equals. In the ardour with which he 
bums, the crimes which arrest his attention are represented in 
all their blackness and deformity, and his diction seems then 
to take the hideous hues of the vices which he censures. 

The standard description of Ezekiel's characteristics is still 
that of Lowth ; and, although open to question in some points, 
it is, as a whole, correctly discriminating. He says -} * Ezekiel 
is much inferior to Jeremiah in elegance : in sublimity he is not 
even excelled by Isaiah ; but his sublimity is of a totally diffe- 
rent kind. He is deep, vehement, tragical : the only sensation 
he affects to excite is the terrible ; his sentiments are elevated, 
full of fire, fervid ; his imagery is crowded, magnificent, teirific, 
sometimes almost to disgust ; his language is pompous, solemn, 
austere, rough, and at times unpolished ; he employs frequent 
repetitions, not for the sake of elegance, but firom the vehe- 
mence of passion and indignation. Whatever subject he treats 
of, that he sedulously pursues ; firom that he rarely departs, but 
cleaves as it were to it, whence the connection is in general 
evident and well preserved. In many respects he is x>erhaps 
excelled by the other prophets ; but in that species of composi- 
tion to which he seems by nature adapted — ^the forcible, the 
impetuous, the great and solemn, — ^not one of the sacred writers 
is superior to him. His diction is sufficiently perspicuous ; all 
his obscurity consists in the nature of his subject Visions (as, 
for instance, among others, those of Hosea, Amos, and Jeremiah) 
are necessarily dark and confused. The greater part of Ezekiel, 
towards the middle of the book especially, is poetical, whether 
we regard the matter or the diction.' 

The general sentiment of biblical scholars scarcely supports 
Lowth in equalling the sublimity of Ezekiel to that of Isaiah. 
It seems to be agreed that neither sublimity nor elegance is the 
distinguishing characteristic of the diction of this prophet The 
style is generally prosaic, without that parallelism which we 

^ We cite Gr^oty's translation, which had Lowth's own sanction. But 
those who can, had better look to the original Latin, which, in this part at 
least, is rich in felicitously discriminating epithets, imperfectly represented 
in the translation. 

Character of EzekieVs Prophecies. 295 

have formerly indicated as of the essence of Hebrew poesy. 
The amplification of his images^ and the luxuriancy of his 
details, rarely convey to the soul that sentiment of sublimity by 
which it is ravished and transported. His real character is that 
of abundance, fecundity, impetuosity, vehemence, and exagge- 
ration. He turns the same idea over and over in all its diffe- 
rent aspects, that it may enter more sharply and deeply into 
the soul. He rather neglects regularity and elegance, as well 
as the simply natural in style and expression, in order that he 
may astonish, alarm, and strike the imagination by his terrible 
tableaux. He passes abruptly from the figurative to the literal, 
and from the literal to the figurative, without any manner of 
notice to the reader. If to our severe taste some of these 
images appear extravagant and unnatural, it is only necessary 
to reflect, that the contemporaries of the prophet were doubt- 
less accustomed to strong and exaggerated imagery ; and that 
allegories more regular and nicely studied, would, however 
pleasing to us, have failed to excite and nourish eastern imagi- 
nations. The most esteemed Sanscrit, Arabic, and Persian 
poems are full of images and figures more strange and gigantic 
than any to be found even in Ezekiel ; and this proves, that in 
order to judge rightly of the Hebrew poets, it is needful to 
place ourselves in the East, among a people whose imaginations 
are far more ardent and more exalted than our own. But 
although Ezekiel does often — ^more often than any other pro- 
phet — employ figures which may appear to us exaggerated and 
unnatural, his book contains many pieces of figurative descrip- 
tion, from which the severest taste formed on modem occidental 
rules and habits cannot withhold its admiration. 

All such discussions regarding the style and manner of the 
sacred writers, should be written and read under the caution 
given by one of EzekieFs translators '} * The holy prophet is 
not to be considered merely as a poet, or as a framer of those 
august and astonishing visions, and of those admirable poetical 
representations, which he committed to writing; but as an 
instrument in the hands of God, who* vouchsafed to reveal him- 

^ Archbishop Newcome. 

296 Twenty-second Week— Second Day. 

self through a long succession of ages, not only in divers parts, 
constituting a magnificent and uniform whole, but also in divers 
manners, — as by voice, by dreams, by inspiration, and by plain 
or enigmatical vision.' 

The point to which, as characteristic of Ezekiel, we began 
by directing attention, seems never to have been noticed. We 
owe to him the clearest exhibitions of the forms of idolatry 
among different nations, to be found in any one portion of the 
Bible : he has given the fullest and most interesting accoimt of 
early commerce, and the productions of different countries, that 
exists in all ancient literature — an account which to this day 
forms the basis of all historical speculations on the subject; and 
he has furnished us with a remarkable description of the usages 
of sepulture in nations far apart. All this admits of interesting 
corroborations from modem researches ; and these cannot fail 
to suggest, that Ezekiel was a man of cultivated mind and 
enlarged observation, who had noted, with a degree of interest 
unusual for a Jew in that age, the circumstances tending to 
illustrate the condition and sentiments of different nations, 
which he could ascertain by inquiry, which had been given to 
him by report, or which enforced and voluntary travel had 
brought under his personal notice. 

There is one remarkable peculiarity of Ezekiers writings which 
is strikingly illustrated by recent discoveries in Assyria and Baby- 
lonia, — the strange and hitherto unintelligible imagery of the first 
chapter. That first, glorious vision is altogether different from any 
seen by previous prophets. It is not cloud, or fire, or * seraph 
clothed in mortal garb,' but compound monsters. Outspread 
wings, calves' feet, and, * as for the likeness of their faces, they four 
had the face of a man and the face of a lion on the right side ; and 
they four had the face of an ox on the left side ; they four also had 
the face of an eagle' (i. 10). In former days commentators could 
make nothing of these wondrous * living creatures.' Now aU is 
clear. As the imagery revealed to Moses, the thunders, and light- 
nings, and mountain smoking, was adapted to the wilderness of 
Sinai, and that seen by Isaiah was adapted to the vine-clad hiUs 
and rich plains and fortified cities of Palestine ; so the imagery of 
Ezekiel is Assyrian in its type and character. * The imagery that 

Chambers of Imagery, 297 

he sees is that which no one could have used unless he had wan- 
dered through the vast halls of Assyrfan palaces, and there gazed 
on all that Assyrian monuments have disclosed to us of human 
dignity and brute strength combined — the eagle-winged lion, the 
human-headed bull. These complicated forms supplied the vehicle 
of the sublime truths that dawned upon him from amidst the 
mystic wheels, the sapphire throne, the amber fire, and the rainbow 
brightness. It is the last glimpse of those gigantic emblems, which 
vanished in the prophet's lifetime, only to reappear in our own age^ 
from the ruins of the long-lost Nineveh.'^ 


The eighth chapter of Ezekiel is that to which we yesterday 
referred as exhibiting the prophet's portraiture of the prevailing 
idolatries of his time. In this we have the melancholy fact, 
clearly and graphically set forth, that in the age of Jerusalem's 
doom, the Jews had fallen into all the idolatries of their Egyp- 
tian, Phoenician, and Assyrian neighbours, and simultaneously 
practised them, apparently in the temple of the Lord at Jeru- 
salem, producing, by their combination, and with a profession 
of allegiance to Jehovah, an abomination worse than any of 
these idolatries taken singly could have been, and forming a 
most cogent reason for their condemnation, and an awful ex- 
position of the causes of their ruin. We knew this before, from 
the dispiersed intimations of the other prophets ; but not so as 
to impress the fact deeply upon the mind, as is done here by 
Ezekiel, who brings the matter visibly before us, and makes us, 
with himself, spectators of the dreadful scene. 

In the visions of God the prophet conceives himself taken to 
Jerusalem, where, in the inner court of the temple, his attention 
is directed to a chink or hole in the wall, which he is ordered 
to enlarge, on doing which he finds a door which had not 
before been obvious. 'I went in,' he says, *and saw; and 
behold, every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, 

1 Stanley's Jewish Churchy p. 565. 

298 Twenty-second Week — Third Day. 

and all the idols of the house of 1^3.t\ portrayed upon the wail 
round about ^ 

This is clearly the Egyptian form of idolatry. The Rev. W. 
Jowett quotes this text as furnishing an exact description of the 
' chambers of imagery' in that country ; adding, * the Israelites 
were but copyists, the master-sketches being to be seen in all 
the temples and tombs of Egypt.' In that country the walls of 
the inner sanctuaries of the temples, as well as the tombs and 
mystic cells, are to this day covered with representations, 
sculptured or painted in vivid colours, of sacred animals, of 
gods in human form and under various circumstances, or in 
various monstrous combinations of the human and bestial 
shapes. The temples alone would furnish sufficient illustra- 
tion, but that from the tombs seems the most exactly appro- 
priate, for they furnish just such chambers as the prophet 
gained access to, decorated in the same manner ; and there is 
little doubt, from the nature of these decorations, from their 
connection with the temples, and other circumstances, that 
they were not merely tombs, but were also used for the cele- 
bration of the darker mysteries and superstitions of the most 
debasing idolatry the world has ever witnessed. 

In reading Dr. Madden's account of the way in which he 
got access to the chamber of imagery of the temple of Edfou, 
we were strongly reminded, not only of the similar chamber 
which the prophet saw, and which it seems that some leading 
Jews had secretly connected with the temple of Jerasalem, bat 
of the mode in which he gained access to it. The roof of this 
temple forms the site of an Arab village, and the whole interior 
is so filled up with rubbish that it had been deemed impossible 
to enter. Hassen, an old man, grateful for some medical 
relief, disclosed to Dr. Madden a secret passage^ which had 
never before been made known to any Frank, and through 
which he offered to conduct him. * Considerably below the 
surface of the adjoining buildings, he pointed out to me a 
chink in an old wall^ which he told me I should creep through 
on my hands and feet : the aperture was not two feet and a 
half high, and scarcely three feet and a half broad. My com- 

Chambers of Imagery. 299 

panion had the courage to enter first, thrusting in a lamp 
before him. I followed, and after me the son of the old man 
crept also. The passage was so narrow, that my mouth and 
nose were sometimes buried in the dust, and I was nearly 
suffocated. After proceeding about ten yards in utter dark- 
ness, the heat became excessive, breathing was laborious, the 
perspiration poured down my face, and I would have given the 
world to have got out; but my companion, whose person I 
could not distinguish, though his voice was audible, called out 
to me to crawl a few feet farther, and I should find plenty of 
space. I gained him at length, and had the inexpressible 
satisfaction of standing once more on my feet We found 
ourselves in a. splendid apartment of great magnitude, and 
adorned with sacred paintings and hieroglyphics. The ceiling, 
which was also painted, was supported by several rows of 

It would be interesting to trace the steps by which the 
Egyptians descended from the primeval truths of the patri- 
archal faith, which their ancestors shared with all the children 
of Noah. It might be possible, from the materials extant, to 
do this, through deeper study and closer investigation than 
have yet been given to the matter. It is likely that the 
earliest, and therefore most just, conceptions of the Almighty 
entertained by the Egyptians, find a memorial in their triad 
representation of his abstract existence, his essential nature, 
and his relation to the visible universe: Amun, the Hidden 
One; Kneph, the Great Spirit; and Khem, the Universal 
Creator. But long before the commencement of the historical 
period, this conception of the Deity had become obscured, 
and the Egyptian pantheon was filled with all imaginable in- 
ventions — ^the greater gods and the lesser — a menagerie of all 
living things — ^a medley of all symbols and emblems, down- 
ward from the awfiil triad to the vilest reptile, and the most 
unseemly object in nature. 

That amidst all this the priesthood retained or possessed 
the knowledge of the great truths to which we have referred, 
is unquestionable ; and, indeed, these truths were entertained 

300 Twenty-second Week — Third Day. 

by the higher order of minds in all ages and countries. They 
believed in a Being, or beings, abstract or unknown, or known 
only through his own manifestations ; and they believed in the 
continued existence, if not in the immortality, of the soul, and 
in a moral government. Whether these were, as we have sup- 
posed, relics of a primeval revelation, or were the dictates of 
reason, we know not ; nor is it of much consequence, for St 
Paul affirms the light of nature to be sufficient for these things. 
Rom. i. 19, 20. But to the charge against the leaders of 
opinion in all ages and pagan countries, the Egyptian priest- 
hood are especially open, — that they concealed, or exhibited 
only in inscrutable symbols, and disclosed only as high secrets 
to the initiated few, what they thus actually knew ; while they 
taught what they did not themselves believe, or did not believe 
in the sense in which they wished it to be understood by the 
people. 'They took upon themselves to conclude that the 
true doctrine was not suited to the vulgar; that an abstract 
faith, and an invisible deity, were insufficient guarantees for 
order and religion ; and hence they set about inventing a more 
popular faith, and a more imposing form of worship.' * They 
concealed the great purifpng verities from others; hid what 
they themselves knew of truth under forms and symbols, and 
hieratic language, which only themselves could understand. 
For the abstract verities they substituted rites and ceremonies, 
and objects of worship, the tendency of which they knew to be 
injurious, and that they must as certainly darken the mind and 
debase the character, as that an opaque body must cast a 
shadow, and a cloud obscure the rays of the rising sun.' * 

^ Beldam's Recollections and Scenes and Institutions in Italy and the 
East, London, 1851. Chap, xx., — ^in which the subject of Egjrptian 
idolatry is ably discussed, though in a more tolerant spirit towards idolatrous 
symbolization, as suck, than the Bible sanctions. The grossness of the 
Egyptian symbolization shocks him rather than its essence, which he seems 
to regard as a necessary evil, in the absence of such direct revelation as the 
Hebrews possessed. Volumes might, however, be written, and have been 
written, on these matters. The doctrine of the Egyptian priesthood re- 
specting reserve in the imparUttion of religious truth exists in our day, and 
has found Christian advocates. 

Thammuz. 301 

WmtxA:g'%txtst^ 3GEe^k— Jf0ttrt|^ gag* 


When the prophet had sufficiently viewed the abominations of 
the chamber of imagery, he was taken elsewhere to witness a 
still greater abomination. He beheld * women weeping for 
Tammuz,* at the north gate of the house of the Lord. 

This Tammuz, or rather Thammuz, was no other than the 
Adon or Adonis of the Phoenicians; and what the prophet 
describes in this passage is the annual mourning commemora- 
tion of his death, which the women of Israel celebrated afler 
the example of, and doubtless at the same time as, the Phoeni- 
cian females, who then kept themselves seated during the night 
before their houses, shedding abundant tears,* with their looks 
stedfastly directed towards a certain point in the north. The 
solemnity was solstitial, and fell towards the end of June, in 
the month called Thammuz, whence, perhaps, the idol derived 
the name he bore among the Hebrews ; for it is not credible 
that they would, as some suppose, distinguish one of their 
months by the name of an idol. 

The feast — for, as a whole, it was such, the mournings being 
soon turned into joy — ^was essentially the same as that of Osiris 
in Egypt, with only some unimportant variation in accessories ; 
and the essential identity of the gods and of the ceremonials 
was acknowledged by both the Egyptians and the Phoenicians. 
It was a very popular celebration, and extended not only to 
Israel, but to all Syria and to Greece. Its chief seats were 
Byblus in Phoenicia first, and in later times Antioch in Syria, 
Alexandria, and Athens ; but in the last-named place, the feast, 
instead of being solstitial, as in the East, was equinoctial, 
falling in April or May, at the new moon. 

The myth or legend of Adonis comes to us through the 
Greeks and Romans in different versions, which it is not easy 
to reconcile ; and therefore those who treat of the matter com- 
monly take from the number that one which they like best or 

302 Twenty-second Week — Fourth Day. 

think most intelligible. The same leading idea and significa- 
tion intended to be conveyed, may easily be traced in all the 
forms of this mjrth — in the most recent no less than the most 
ancient. The earliest and simplest of its forms relates that 
Aphrodite — ^who is the Ashtoreth of the Bible, the Astarte of 
the Greeks, and the Venus of the Romans — ^being charmed 
with the beauty of the infimt Adonis, concealed him in a chest, 
and consigned him to the care of Persephone,^ who, on dis- 
covering the nature of the treasure in her keepipg, refused to 
give it up. The case was brought before Jupiter, who decided 
the dispute, by decreeing that he should spend one third kA the 
year with Aphrodite (Venus), another third with Persephone, 
and that the remaining third should be at his own disposal ; 
and his choice was to give his four months to Aphrodite, thus 
remaining eight months in the year with her, and spending the 
other four in the gloomy abode of his other patroness. 

The additions which we derive from other accounts amount 
to this : Adonis, growing up into a fine young man, was greatly 
loved by his patroness Aphrodite, who dreaded the danger 
from wild beasts to which his passionate attachment to the 
pleasures of the chase exposed him. Nor without reason \ for 
one day he was mortally wounded by a wild boar from the 
forests of Lebanon — sent, as some accoimts add, by the vin- 
dictive jealousy of Ares (Mars) to destroy him. When she 
heard of this disaster, Aphrodite flew to the spot, and sprinkled 
nectar upon his blood, fi:om which immediately flowers sprung 
up.^ On his death, Adonis was obliged to descend into the 
lower world ; but it was, at the earnest solicitation of Aphro- 
dite, granted to him that he should spend six months in every 
year with her in the upper world. 

The great feast of Adonis commemorated these circum- 
stances. It consisted of two parts — the one consecrated to 
grief, and the other to joy. In the days of grief, the votaries 
mourned the disappearance of Adonis ; in the days of gladness, 

^ The same known as Pr6serpina among the Romans. 
^ The Flos AdoniSy common m our gardens, connects itself with this 

Thammuz. 303 

they celebrated his discovery and return. The two feasts were 
consecutive, but did not everywhere succeed each other in the 
same order. At Byblus, long the headquarters of this worsliip, 
the feast of lamentation came first ; but at Alexandria, and pro- 
bably at Athens, the feast of joy had the precedence. It was 
composed of all kinds of funeral ceremonials in honour of the 
dead. The women in particular gave way to the most vehe- 
ment transports of grief for the lost god. The only observance 
like this in modem times, is the annual moiuning of the Per- 
sians for Hossein ; and whoever has witnessed that, or read of 
it, will understand how frantically real the grief excited by such 
solemnities may become. At Byblus, the women often cut off 
their hair on this occasion ; and it was deemed an acceptable 
and appropriate act, to offer up to this god in his temple that 
more costly and shocking sacrifice, which, with other enormi- 
ties, rendered this a 'greater abomination' in the divine view, 
than even the debasing worship carried on in the Egyptian 
chambers of imagery. 

Besides the lamentations customary in the East, doleful 
songs were chanted to the accompaniment of pipes. The 
image of Adonis was- placed on a funeral bed, or on a cata^ 
falque, sometimes colossal, as at Alexandria, where the feast 
was celebrated with a pomp and grandeur truly regal. The 
Idyl in which Theocritus gives a graphic account of the 
festival of Adonis, as celebrated at Alexandria, under the 
auspices of Arsinoe, wife of Ptolemy Philadelphus, enables us 
to realize a strong impression of the great magnificence of this 
solemnity. In this we may especially remark the description 
of the bed on which the image of the demigod reposed, around 
which were crowded a multitude of emblems, the greater part 
of them designed to express the influence of the sun upon 
vegetation, and upon physical life in general. Among the 
most significant S3rmbols of this kind were 'the gardens of 
Adonis.* Earthen vases or silver baskets were filled with 
mould, in which, as the time of the feast approached, were 
sown wheat, fennel, lettuce, and some other seeds, which, by 
the effects of concentrated heat, covered the mould with green 

304 Twenty-second Week — Fourth Day. 

sprouts in about eight days. This quick germination of the 
seed, and rapid development of the seedlings, as well as the 
equally rapid decay of this factitious herbage when left to itself, 
was a most significant emblem of the whole mystery, which was 
set forth in the fable and the rites of Adonis, to obvious expla- 
nations of which we are now led. 

Adon means * Lord,' a title usually applied to the sun. 
Adonis was the sun. The upper hemisphere of the earth, or 
that which was regarded as such, was anciently called Aphro- 
dite, and the lower hemisphere Persephone. Therefore, when 
the sun was in the six inferior signs of the zodiac, he was said 
to be with Persephone ; and when he was in the six superior, 
with Aphrodite. By the boar that slew Adonis, winter was 
understood ; for that rough and fierce animal was not inaptly 
made the emblem of that rigid season. Some, however, think 
that Adonis rather denoted the fruits of the earth, which are 
for a season buried in darkness, but at length appear flourish- 
ing above the ground. When, therefore, the seed was cast 
into the ground, it was said that Adonis had gone to Perse- 
phone ; but when it sprouted up, that he had revisited the 
light and Aphrodite. Both interpretations may be combined, 
for most of the ancient fables of this sort bore comprehensive 
meanings ; but there can be no doubt that the general refer- 
ence of the whole is to the death of nature in winter, and its 
revival in spring. 

There flows down from Lebanon a river, the waters of which, 
at a certain season, acquire a reddish tinge. As this occurred 
about the feast of Adonis, it suggested to the ready fancy of 
the heathen, that this discoloration of the water arose from 
the sjnnpathy of nature with the death of Adonis. Hence the 
river was called after him, and its stream was supposed to 
be tinged by his blood. The phenomenon is still observed, 
the water of the river giving its redness to the sea for a con- 
siderable distance at its mouth. This circumstance, caused 
doubtless by the red earths washed into the river by heavy 
rains, or by its stream being then so raised in its bed as to 
wash some ochreous clifis, may very possibly have given rise to 

Cob-walls. 305 

the whole fable, — Milton's allusion to which will occur to many 
readers : 

' Thammuz came next behind, 
Whose anaual wound in Lebanon allured 
The Syrian damsels to lament his fate 
In amorous ditties all a summer's day ; 
While smooth Adonis from his native rock 
Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood 
Of Thammuz, yearly wounded.' 

The river Adonis, now called by the native Arabs, Nahr Ibrahim, 
cuts its tortuous way through some of the wildest and most romantic 
scenery in Lebanon. Its fountain is beneath the brow of Sunnin, 
the second peak, for altitude, in the mountain range. Here a curved 
wall of limestone, nearly a thousand feet high, sweeps roimd the 
head of a sublime glen. From a dark cave at its foot a noble 
stream bursts forth, and leaps in sheets of foam over ledges of rock 
till it disappesffs in unseen depths below. Groves of pine and oak, 
intermixed with walnut and mulberry trees, overshadow the boiling 
torrent, and clothe the banks of the ravine. On a little mound 
beside the fountain once stood the temple of Venus, now a con- 
fused mass of ruins. Not far distant is the little village of Afka^ 
the modem representative of the classic Apheca, where the fairest 
daughters of Syria were of old wont to assemble for the worship of 
their favourite goddess. This is the scene of the romantic tale of 
Venus and Adonis, and of the prototypes of those disgraceful rites 
of Tammuz to which Ezekiel refers. The river falls into the Medi- 
terranean a few miles south of Jebeil, the Gebal of the Hebrews 
and Byblus of the Greeks, which was the chief seat of the worship 
of Adonis. 

^ixstxdi^'UtnvtiJi Meth— Jfiflj^ gag* 


In the thirteenth chapter of his prophecies, Ezekiel employs 
an image derived from the work of builders. ' One built up a 
wall, and, lo, others daubed it with imtempered mortar. Say 
unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall 

VOL. VI. u 

3o6 Twenty-second Week— Fifth Day. 

fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great 
hailstones, shall fall ; and a stormy wind shall rend it.' 

These words have to us no very distinct meaning. We can- 
not pretend to have understood them ourselves, until a da)r's 
detention to rest our beasts in a Median village gave us leisure 
and opportunity to watch, for the first time, the process of 
building a new house or cottage. The men were building it 
with ' cob-walls ;* so called in Devonshire and Cornwall, where 
the same process is followed, and where we had often observed 
it without being struck with its suitableness for the elucidation 
of this text, until we saw the same thing in the East. So it is 
often that the thing itself suffices not, unless we have also the 
place of the thing, to afford the clue to the kind of information 
it is capable of affording. That place is not always Palestine 
itself, as we have often alleged ; for many scriptural customs, 
which have been preserved in other countries, east and west, 
ceased in that country under the many changes to which it has 
been subjected. This illustration, for instance, may no-w be 
sought in vain in Palestine, where the people no longer build 
with cob-walls, as the present and other texts would seem to 
show that they formerly did. The text cannot be explained 
but by reference to this mode of building. Seeing that the 
prophet was in the country of the Euphrates, it may be doubt- 
ful whether he does not rather here refer to the mode of 
building in the place of his sojourn, than to that of the country 
from which he came. It was probably to both; but if to one 
only, undoubtedly to Palestine. This very remarkable and 
distinctive mode of building being found in Cornwall and 
Devon, and also in the East, must be referred to the Phoeni- 
cians, who had colonies in those parts of our island ; and the 
colonists would naturally build their houses in the way to 
which they had been accustomed at home. It seems a long 
way firom Phoenicia to Cornwall — ^and yet the distance is not 
so great as from Britain to our colonies, to which we have con- 
veyed the modes of living and building of our own country. 
This would be a sufficient explanation; but the intervening 
distance is diminished by the fact, that this mode of building 

Cob'Walls. 307 

is found intermediately in Barbary and Morocco, where the 
Phoenicians had also colonies ; so that we can actually trace 
these cob-walls from Canaan to Cornwall by the line of the 
colonies of T3rre and Sidon. 

If this mode of building prevailed among the Phoenicians, 
then it did among the ancient Canaanites also, whom the 
Hebrews superseded in the possession of Palestine. The 
Phoenicians were Canaanites ; and, doubtless, when the incur- 
sion of the Israelites drove the old inhabitants to the sea- 
shore, this maritime people — eager colonizers, were glad to 
avail themselves of the materials for distant colonies thrown 
upon their hands, in the persons of these expelled nations. 
Certain it is, that the Jews of North Africa are firmly per- 
suaded that the native inhabitants of Barbary and Morocco are 
descended from the nations expelled from Canaan. This belief 
is of little independent value, but is of importance taken in 
connection with corroborative circumstances, and serves much 
' to thicken other proofs,' which, taken separately, might * de- 
monstrate thinly.* 

If the Hebrews, on leaving Egypt, had gone to a new 
country, they would probably have built in it houses after the 
model of those in the land they had quitted. But they entered 
a country already full of towns and villages, and acquired pos- 
session of the dwellings of the previous inhabitants ; so that, 
for some generations, there could have been no need of their 
building houses for themselves; and when they did, they 
would inevitably build after the pattern which the Canaanites 
had left, and with which they had become familiar. The Jews 
had, therefore, no distinctive mode of building houses of their 
own, but followed that which was common in Canaan, and 
which the Canaanites carried with them in their migrations, 
and the Phoenicians into their colonies. 

But what is a cob-wall ? It is a wall made of beaten earth 
rammed into moulds or boxes, to give the parts the requisite 
shape and consistence, and so deposited, by the withdrawal of 
the mould, layer by layer, upon the wall, each layer drying in its 
place as the work proceeds. The blocks are usually of consider- 

3o8 Twenty-second Weeh^Fifth Day. 

able size, and are of various quality and strength, as well as cost, 
according to the materials employed, and the time expended 
upon them. The simplest are merely of earth, or of eaith 
compacted with straw. This is the kind which the prophet 
had in view, and which is used in Devon and in Morocco, as 
well as in the East. It cannot stand against heavy rains ; and 
therefore, unless the climate be very dry, it requires to be fisuxd 
or coated with a tempered mortar of lime or sand, as a fence 
against the weather. Without this, the body of the wall is 
liable to the contingencies described by the prophet 

A superior kind of cob is made of these latter ingredients in 
combination ; and if well and perseveringly beaten together, 
they fonn the material for a wall of the most solid character, 
impervious to the influence of the weather, and almost of time. 
This is seldom seen now anywhere except in very old walls; 
but the mode of their preparation is well described in the 
narrative of a Christian slave in Morocco in the seventeenth 
century. We quote the passage, which is the more curious 
from the analogy it suggests to the similar employment of 
Jewish captives in Egypt. ^ 

'Our work and daily labour was continually building of 
houses and walls j the material and method is so very foreign, 
and will appear strange to my countrymen. Here there are 
boxes of wood, of dimensions according to pleasure. These 
we fill with earth, powdered, and lime and gravel, well beaten 
together and tempered with water ; and, when full, we remove 
the box according to order, and withdraw the box planks, 
leaving the matter to dry, which will then acquire an incredible 
degree of hardness ; and is very lasting, for we have seen walls 
of some hundred years standing, as we are informed, and all 
that time has not been able to do them any prejudice. The 
king himself (what reason for his humour we never had the 
curiosity to ask him) will sometimes vouchsafe to work in the 
lime and dirt for an hour together, and will bolt out an en- 
couraging word to the slaves there, viz. as I remember, " God 
send you to your own countries ;" but I judge he either does 

* Morning Series, Fourteenth Week — Second Day. 

Cob'Walls. 309 

not speak from his heart, or else he hopes that God will not 
answer the prayer of such a wretch as himself.'^ 

This superior material is now chiefly employed in the East, 
and, as Mr. Urquhart vouches, in Morocco, for the flat roofing 
of houses — a matter of great difficulty, and of so much im- 
portance, that they celebrate the covering-in of houses with 
ceremonies analogous to those which we employ in laying the 
foundation-stone. * Over the wood-work earth is first beaten 
down, then a layer of earth and lime, and then the pure lime : 
each layer is separately beaten. They use a small paving- 
mallet. They woik by gangs, and strike in cadence with short 
strokes, singing in concert, and producing a strange melody 
that resounds through the neighbourhood of their silent cities, 
startling the echoes, which recalls the song of " Adria's Gon- 
dolier ;" but the words convey simpler thoughts, and a more 
devotional spirit One strain runs thus : 

** Yalla wo yalla amili dinu yarbi ; 
Yalla wo yalla an azziz yarbi." 

O God ! O God ! Eternal art Thou, O my Lord. 

O God I O God ! Dear to me art Thou, O my Lord.'2 

The mode of building here described by Dr. Kitto is very com- 
mon at Damascus, not in the city itself, but in some of the villages 
of the surrounding plain. The gardens and fields, which extend for 
many miles around Damascus, are fenced with walls of clay, baked 
in wooden moulds, or boxes, in situ^ and then left to dry and harden. 

' Captivity of 7*. Phelps, London, 1685. 

2 Pillars of Hercules y which contains some curious but discursive specula- 
tions on Moorish architecture. The author felt at a loss to make out the 
et3rmology of the word * cob,' as applied to this wall in Devon and Corn- 
wall. The word * is neither Teutonic nor Celtic, Greek nor Latin, Hebrew 
nor Arabic' He thinks it may come firom Cubbe — Arabic for a tomb, 
which we doubt. Mr. Urquhart adds, * that whatever be the origin, many 
English derivatives show that cob meant both wall and "beating." Cobweb^ 
the web and the wall ; cobdetty hole in the wall ; cobbler, one making fre- 
quent use of the hammer ; cobbing, a schoolboy term for thrashing with a 
knotted handkerchief; besides many others — Codbet, Cobham^ [Cobbola]; 
cob^ as applied to a breakwater — Lyme cob,^ 

3IO Twenty-second Week — Sixth Day, 

They are not, of course, very strong ; but, under ordinary circum- 
stances, they last for years. Heavy rain is very destructive to them ; 
but a snow storm, or a slight frost, causes them to crumble away 
almost to the ground. I have also seen houses and goat-pens, con- 
structed in a similar manner, in some of the villages on the alluvial 
plains of Palestine where building stone is scarce. 


The Ammonites appear to have revolted against the Chaldean 
sway at the same time with the Jews ; and when the king of 
Babylon commenced his march with the purpose of reducing 
them to obedience, he seems to have been undecided whether 
to proceed against Jerusalem or against Rabbah. When, how- 
ever, he came to * the parting of the way,* to the point where 
it became necessary to decide in which direction to lead his 
forces, he resorted to divination to determine the question for 
him, — a favourite resource among the ancients in doubtful con- 
tingencies, to save themselves the trouble and responsibility of 
decision, by casting it upon their gods and their diviners. 

It is at this point tlie prophet sets the great king before us. 
' Appoint a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the 
Ammonites, and to Judah in Jerusalem the defenced. For 
the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the 
head of the two ways, to use divination : he made his arrows 
bright, he consulted with images (feraphini)^ he looked in the 
liver.' The result was, that he should go against Jerusalem, 
for *at his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to 
appoint captains, to open the mouth in slaughter, to lift up 
the voice with shouting, to appoint battering-rams against the 
gates, to cast a mount, and to build a fort.' 

The divination by means of arrows^ indicated in this passage, 
is entitled to particular attention, as that, or something in prin- 
ciple like it, was of remote antiquity and extensive prevalence, 

The Parting of the Way. 3 1 1 

and still subsists in some parts of the world. As practised by- 
Nebuchadnezzar, it is to be explained by a reference to a form 
of divination known to have been in use among the Chaldeans. 
They marked upon the arrows the names of the places they 
had in view, or the alternatives they submitted to this deter- 
mination. They then drew the arrows from the quiver at a 
venture, and the one that first came forth with one of the 
marks upon it, was regarded not only as supplying the response 
required, but as manifesting the will of the gods, and as con- 
veying an assurance of success in the enterprise in view. In 
this case, for instance, we are to suppose that the name of 
Jerusalem, or a sign representing that city, was marked upon 
an arrow, and that of Rabbah upon another ; and as the arrow 
for Jerusalem came forth first, the king and his army took the 
road to Jerusalem without any further hesitation. 

There were among the ancients various modes of consulting 
the gods by means of such things as rods and arrows. Some 
of these are curious in the details, though they all resolve them- 
selves into the same essential process. 

The ancient Germans used to cut a branch from a fruit tree 
into several pieces, and after marking them with certain charac- 
ters, cast them at hazard upon a white cloth. Then the father 
of the family, if the business took place in a private house, took 
up the pieces one after another, and drew omens of the future 
firom the inspection of the marks upon them, or rather, we con- 
clude, from the order or sequence in which the marks were 
presented. This was, in principle, similar to the modem for- 
tune-telling by cards, which, perhaps, owes its origin to this 
practice. The Scythians had also modes of divining by 
branches or twigs from growing trees ; and they seem to have 
been particular as to the species of trees to which they resorted 
for this purpose, the willow being held in special esteem. This 
is a curious fact, as reminding one of the willow * divining rods* 
of the treasure-seekers and water-finders of two or three hun- 
dred years ago. The divination by reeds, rods, branches, or 
bits of wood, was also common among the Persians and the 
Greeks ; and seems, from Hosea iv. 12, to have found its way 


1 2 Twenty-second Week — Sixth Day. 

among the Israelites : * My people ask counsel at their stocks, 
and their staff declareth unto them.' This is admitted by 
Jewish writers, particularly by Maimonides, who, in his treatise 
on idolatry, says that one who wished to know the future offered 
some perfumes, and holding in his hand a rod of myrtle, pro- 
nounced certain words. He then stooped down as if to listen 
to some one underneath, whose answers he could imderstand 
in the spirit without the aid of words. And in another place 
he says, that one who consults his staff leans on it until he 
knows that of which he inquires. 

More exactly parallel to the instance before us is a practice 
which existed among the Arabs, and was much used by them 
on public and private occasions, but which has now, we believe, 
fallen into disuse. They used three unfeathered arrows, upon 
one of which was written, * Command me. Lord ;* upon another, 
* Forbid (or prevent), Lord ;' ajid the other had nothing written 
on it The arrows were put into a bag, from which they were 
drawn by the inquirer. If the one drawn was the first, it was 
regarded as an affirmative response ; if the second, as a na- 
tive; and as no particular significance was attached to the 
blank arrow, the drawing of it occasioned the recommencement 
of the operation. 

There is another species of divination by arrows, in use 
among the Turks and Moors, which will be best understood 
by an actual instance which we find in Purchas^ his PUgrimSf 
in a narrative of tihe capture of the ship * Jacob * by Algerine 
pirates in 162 1. We learn that every large ship of the corsair 
was provided with a diviner, who was often consulted, and by 
whom the commander was guided in his determinations. When 
two large vessels hove in sight, the commander of the ship, in 
which the narrator was held captive, was afraid to give chase 
lest they should prove to be Spanish ships of war ; it is 00 
occasions of this kind that the diviners are consulted. ' Then 
they have two arrows and a curtle-axe, lying upon a pillow, 
naked ; the arrows are one for the Turks, and the other for the 
Christians. Then the witch readeth [a chapter of the Koran]; 
and the captain, or some other, taketh the arrows in their hand 

Painted Sculptures, 313 

by the heads ; and if the arrow for the Christians cometh over 
the head of the arrow for the Turks, then do they advance 
their sails, and will not endure the fight, whatsoever they see ; 
but if the arrow of the Turks is found, on the opening of the 
hand, upon that of the Christians, then will they stay and en- 
counter with any ship whatsoever.' The writer does not seem 
to have been aware that it is alleged that during the reading by 
the diviner, the arrows, however firmly grasped, were moved 
and agitated by a strong compulsion, over which the man who 
held them had not the least control 

In the Ass3nian sculptures there are several representations 
of what appear to be acts of divination. It is thought that 
when the king is represented with an arrow in each hand, as 
sometimes happens^ he is divining by arrows. 

Ctomtff-8W0iitr Mwk— 5Jje&^t|^ gag* 


There are some remarkable allusions in the twenty-third 
chapter of Ezekiel to the personal appearance and attire of 
the Assyrians and Chaldeans, which may well detain our 

It is distinctly represented that the Jews were much struck 
by the fine persons of the Assyrian warriors, who are described 
as ' all of them desirable (or handsome) young men ;' and 
scarcely less by their splendid and becoming raiment, and their 
general appearance, especially their cavalry — 'captains and 
rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses.' 
The impressions we derive from the sculptures of Nineveh fully 
correspond with these intimations ; and in describing the Assy- 
rians as there represented, the same terms might be employed. 
As here seen, they were clearly a fine race of men, with strongly 
marked and noble features, and with robust firames, full of animal 
life and vigour. They are visibly men of action rather than of 


314 Twenty-second Week — Seventh Day. 

thought. We see little that is intellectual, or such intellect only 
as is found to accompany and suffices to direct physical power. 
They seem, in fact, the model of a military people, bom to fight 
and used to conquer. 

Among people of this order, we always find a great love of 
richness and splendour in dress and ornament ; and, accord- 
ingly, there is no nation represented in ancient sculptures which 
exhibits so much gorgeousness of dress, and variety and splen- 
dour of ornament. As Layard remarks, * The Assyrians were 
celebrated at a very early period for the magnificence and 
luxury of their apparel. " The Ass)rrian garments " became 
almost a proverb ; and having first been borrowed by the 
Persians, descended at a later time even to the Romans.' 
These robes, as portrayed in the sculptures, confirm the tradi- 
tions of their beauty and costliness. The dress of the higher 
classes is richly adorned with tasteful embroidery ; and in its 
form, in all classes, realizes the difficult idea of a dress gracefiil 
yet suited for action — an idea in w^hich the nations of modem 
Europe, with all their pretensions to superior taste, have in 
nearly all ages signally and egregiously failed. Whatever admits 
of ornament in the dress, the weapons, the trappings of horses, 
is ornamented ; and although the effect is * gorgeous,' it does 
not make the same adverse impression as the tawdry and un- 
meaning magnificence of modem eastem princes, because 
every ornament is not only tasteful in itself, but appropriate in 
its application. It is not an unmeaning adjunct, like a jewel 
in a swine's snout, or in a Hindoo rajah's turban, but is ifiade a 
part of, and a finish to, that to which it is applied. We hear 
much now about * art manufacture ' in its application to the 
ornamentation of dress, weapons, and utensils. The ancient 
Ass)nians understood the principles of this art very well, or 
rather, their correct taste guided them right where most other 
ancient nations failed. 

Further, we are told that the Jews, personated in Aholibah, 
*saw men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the 
Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, girded with girdles upon 
their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of 

Painted Sculptures. 315 

them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians 
of Chaldea, the land of their nativity.' 

The Babylonian remains which exist, show that there was a 
close analogy between the Assyrians and Babylonians in ap- 
pearance, dress, and customs : we may, therefore, safely bor- 
row from the former, illustrations of what belonged to the 

From the last clause of the quotation Mr. Layard is led to 
think, indeed, that the prophet, who must have seen the sculp- 
tures of Nineveh, had in view the figures of the Chaldeans as 
represented in them among the other subjects of the Assyrian 
empire. There is reason in this ; for the intimation seems to 
declare, that the images portrayed were not in Chaldea, but 
were * after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land 
of their nativity.' In this case, it is quite possible that the 
figures we see in our museums, and represented in books, are 
some of the very same on which the eyes of the prophet had 
rested, and to which he here referred. But, it may be said, 
these are sculptiures, and the prophet refers to colour — to 
paintings ; and that the passage suggests rather such painted 
chambers as we find among the Egyptians, and the like of 
which have not been found in Assyria. There may have been 
such, which have not been spared like the sculptures ; or there 
may be such yet to be discovered. But the intimation of the 
prophet is sufficiently met by the very remarkable fact — re- 
markable to us, but not to the ancients, with whom the prac- 
tice was general — that the Assyrians applied colour to heighten 
the effect of their sculptures^ and that the prevalence of a red 
coloiu: is clearly indicated in the Khorsabad remains. The 
colours now traceable on the sculptures are simply red, blue, 
and black ; and these only on the hair, beard, and a few ac- 
cessories. Mr. Bonomi (after Botta) raises the question. 
Whether we are. to understand that these were tiie only 
colours employed; and that they were only used in those 
places where we find their traces, while the remaining portions 
of the figures, and the background of the bas-reliefs, were en- 
tirely colourless ? To this he answers, that we are still without 

3 1 6 Twenty-second Week — Seventh Day. 

facts to enable us to give a decided answer, * But it appears 
probable, that the colours were more varied, and^ that the 
whole surface of the bas-reliefs was covered with them. Thus, 
on the bricks there are other tints than red, blue, and black; 
we find yellow, white, green, etc ; and there is no reason why 
the Assyrians should have employed the latter colours in their 
bricks and not in their sculptures.' The prophet's intimation 
certainly best agrees with the supposition that the figures were 
coloured in the parts in which no colour now appears; bat 
that the colours^ being less lasting than the others, have been 
destroyed by the conflagration to which the buildings were 
subjected at the time of their destruction, or by the lapse of 
ages, and by the soil in which they have so long been buried. 
Of the Assyrian red, Mr. Layard says that it exceeds in 
brilliancy that of the Egyptians, which was merely an earthy 
bole. It nearly approaches to vermilion in the sculptures of 
Elhorsabad, and has a brilliant cnmson or lake tint in those 
of Nimroud. 

The special reference which the prophet makes to the head- 
dress of these figures, receives remarkable illustration firom the 
elaborate and highly ornamented head-dresses of the principal 
personages in the Nineveh sculptures, specimens of which may 
be seen in some of the figures given in this volume. This 
portion of dress in foreigners was especially calculated to 
attract the attention of the Jews, who themselves usually went 
about with bare heads. There is nothing in Scripture to indi- 
cate that any head-covering was worn, except the crowns of 
the kings, the helmets of warriors, and the ' bonnets ' of the 
priests ; and that they are sometimes represented as covering 
their heads with their mantles, would alone seem to indicate 
that the head had no proper covering of cap or turban. The 
practice appears strange to us, and suggests ideas of colds on 
the one hand, and of headaches and sun-strokes on the other. 
But it is attested historically, and by existing sculptures, that 
the people of many other ancient nations went commonly 
with uncovered heads. The Asiatic foreigners — especially the 
Syrians — ^represented in the Egyptian monuments, are gene- 

Painted Sculptures. 317 

rally bare-headed when not equipped for war. The Egyptians 
themselves, that is, the great body of the nation, servants, 
workmen, labourers, and even the priests (when not actually 
officiating), went not only without caps, but without hair ; and 
we see men laboiuing in the brick-fields, under an all but 
tropical sun, with shaven heads. The Greeks and Romans, 
also, were a bare-headed people generally, though there exist 
some memorials which would intimate that, among the latter, 
the peasantry sometimes sheltered their heads from the weather 
under a kind of hood. 

It is all a matter of habit and training ; and people who are 
used to it may, and do, go bare-headed under any climate, 
without detriment to their health. It is possible even in this 
climate; for the numerous boys of Christ's Hospital, in London 
and Hertford, who are remarkably healthy, and more than 
commonly exempt from colds and headaches, go bare-headed 
in all weathers, though they spend much of their time in the 
open air all the year round. With them it is an acquired 
habit, for they do not enter the school till they are eight 
years old. 

In Siam at the present day, and notwithstanding the tropical 
heat, people of all ranks not only go with uncovered, but with 
shaven heads ; and it is stated that the French (Romish) mis- 
sionaries in that country follow this custom without any inju- 
rious consequences.^ A habit which is practicable in climates 

^ ' The priests adapted themselves in many ways to the usages and cus- 
toms of the natives themselves ; and most strikingly so in one respect, that 
of never wearing any covering on their head, and never sitting in canoes 
that were coVered over. These are two customs which the Siamese priest- 
hood and royal family never deviate from ; for they deem it sacril^e to 
suppose anything should intervene between the lofty canopy of heaven and 
their own bald pates, excepting in their watts and temples, which are pre- 
sumed to be hallowed, or in the palaces of the royal family, which are also 
holy, as containing anointed and sacred kings. 

* How these French priests, some of whom had almost come direct from 
their own country to these parts, managed to avoid getting a coup de soleil, 
-while skulking up and down the river with their bare heads exposed to the 
vertical rays of a sun that parched up the very earth, and quite baked the 
clay alongside the banks of the river, — ^this has been ever a mystery. The 


Twenty-second Week — Seventh Day. 

so diverse as those of England and Siam, is scarcely to be 
regarded as strange in any intermediate climate. 

glare alone was sometimes sufficient to give me a headaclie ; and yet these 
Catholic priests were about the healthiest set of all those residing at 
Bangkok.' — l^i'EJiLE.^s Residence in Statn, London, 1852. 


A STRANGE and deep interest belongs to one of the incidents 
in the personal history of Ezekiel, which the course of his pro- 
phecy discloses. He was married. His wife was very dear to 
him ; for she is called * the desire of his eyes.' He knew that 
they must one day be parted. He must die : she too must 
die — ^which first, was known to God only. But there was 
nothing in his age or state of health, nor anything in hers, to 
suggest that this hour of calamity was near ; and probably 
Ezekiel, although a prophet, did as most men do in regard to 
this matter — refused to let his mind rest upon it, or to contem- 
plate it with any steadiness. It may be safd, there are really 
very few who look death — their own death — steadily in the 
face; and there are certainly fewer still who look their wife's death 
in the face. And the prophet was as other men in this respect. 
Diflferences of time, of manners, of woman's social position, do 
not make much difference in such matters. The poor old heart 
is the same all through ; and is everywhere, and in all time, smitten 
by the same barbs, and bleeds from the same wounds. 

Doubt not, therefore, that Ezekiel felt as any one of us would 
feel on receiving the intimation : * Son of man, behold, I take 
away fi*om thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke.' Strange 
intimation ! The very terms in which it is conveyed aggravate 
the agony it is suited to inflict, by reminding of the value of 
that which he was thus suddenly to lose. She was described 
to him as * the desire of his eyes ;' and she is to be taken from 
him, not through the soothing though painful waminp of the 
sick-bed, by which the mind is gradually prepared to meet the 
worst, but suddenly, * by a stroke,' quick and sharp. Consider 
what that loss was to him. That she was a good and loving 


320 Twenty-third Week — First Day. 

woman is implied throughout. Besides, he was now in captivity 
among the Babylonians ; and his wife was, no doubt, a sweet 
companion and comfort to him in the midst of all the reproaches, 
troubles, and difficulties he met with. And she was to be taken 
by one of those strokes which wound the survivors so deeply, 
that but for the slight preparation this very intimation secured, 
it may well be thought that even Ezekiel, being, though a pro- 
phet, a man such as we are, might himself also have sunk, 
heart-smitten by the stroke. Hence there was graciousness to 
him in this announcement, hard though it was. 

Do we not hear the exceeding sharp and bitter cry which 
this intimation drew from him ? Do we not see the hot tears 
which it wrung from eyes unused to weep,^ and for that reason 
the more hot and bitter ? We hear nothing of this ; we see 
nothing. The desire of his eyes is not only to die, but must 
die unlamented, save in his heart. He must ' make no mourn- 
ing ' for her ; he must * bind the tire upon his head * as usual, 
and not suffer his locks to float wild for her ; he must * put on 
his shoes upon his feet,' and not walk softly and barefoot for 
her, — ^nor for her * cover his lips,' nor ' eat the bread of mea* 
These were acts of mourning from which he was interdicted ; 
and it was hard to omit them. The world might look upcm it 
as a heartless indifference to the memory of one so loved ; ion 
the neglect of customary observances of mourning on the 
part of the living, was deemed an insult to the dead. This was 
hard. But there was something harder yet 'Thou shalt not 
mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.' The other 
inhibitions had been easy to this. Those touched but the outer 
mourning ; these the inner — ^the mourning of the heart. 

And what did the prophet say to all this ? 

He said nothing. It was of the Lord. 

And what did he do ? 

He knew that the restraint commanded was for a sign ; and 
with such a doom over the wife of his youth, so soon to be ac- 
complished, he girded up the loins of his mind to his public 

^ Ezekiel never describes himself as moved to weeping or tears ; Isaiali 
does so sometimes, and Jeremiah often. 

The Stroke. 321 

duty, and told the people of this strange and solemn matter, 
which it was needful they should understand. 

And what then ? 

* At even my wife died.' 

And what more ? 

*I did in the morning as I was commanded.* 

These simple intimations reach the utmost sublimity of moral 
grandeur ; nay, more than that, of devout, and therefore abso- 
lute, submission to Him who doeth all things well. It was in 
this conviction — ^in the firm persuasion that the Lord laid this 
burden upon him, not needlessly, but most wisely; not in anger, 
but with love and pity for the soul He wounded, — that, like 
another of old, he could say, * I was dumb, I opened not my 
mouth, because Thou didst it;' and could follow the great 
example of him of whom it is said, ^ And Aaron held his peace,' 
when his sons died before his eyes. 

Nay, more. It is not enough to say that he submitted to 
this dispensation. He acquiesced in it ; because he knew that 
it was intended for the benefit of his people, as completing, by 
a sign most signal and impressive, that series of literal and 
symbolical warnings by which he had laboured to gain their 
attention, and to stay their downward course to ruin. 

Observe well, that all commentators perceive an interval 
of time between this chapter and those that follow — ^this being 
the last of the prophecies delivered before tlie destruction of 
Jerusalem. The prophet is allowed to rest awhile in his sor- 
rows, public and private ; and when he comes forth again, it is 
to speak in an altered strain, denouncing the doom of the 
nations which had afflicted Israel, or had exulted in her fall, 
and to declare the glory and blessedness which the great future 
had in store. 

Now he was to stand as ' a sign to them ' firom the Lord : 
* According to all that he hath done, shall ye do ; and when 
this Cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord.* They also 
should lose * the desire of their eyes,' — the city and temple of 
their fathers should be brought low unto the dust, and their 
beloved ones perish by the sword. Yet they should not dare, 


322 Twenty-third Week — Second Day. 

nor find occasion to satisfy their griefs with customary mourn- 
ings, but they were to * pine away for ' their * iniquities, and 
mourn one toward another.' 

That this deep and sad lesson might be the more effectually 
taught, the devoted prophet was willing even to yield up * the 
desire of his eyes.' He knew it would not be lost, or fail of its 
effect. For although it should avail not for anterior warning, 
it would for subsequent conviction. When these things had 
befallen them, they would remember the forewamings, and be 
constrained to acknowledge that their doom had indeed come 
from God, and had been most righteously inflicted ; and they 
would be among the agencies tending to that reformation which 
actually took place, which the prophet himself lived to witness, 
and in which he found the rich reward of his labours and suffer- 
ings. For these results, which it is clear he was permitted to 
contemplate, this great prophet was willing to take up a cross, 
the heaviest, one may say, that man was ever called to bear. 

' Let the Lord's servants in every age copy after this instruc- 
tive example. Let them come here from time to time and 
contemplate one of Heaven's noblest witnesses, straggling to 
the last, if haply he might do something to stem the swelling 
tide of evil ; arid even at the last, when all has proved ineffec- 
tual, still readily offering himself upon the sacrifice and service 
— not, indeed, of the people's faith, but still of their highest 
wellbeing, which he sought with a fervour and devotion un- 
known to themselves. With such a lofty spirit of consecration 
to the work of God, what enterprises of philanthropy might not 
be undertaken, and what triumphs ultimately won !' ^ 


It seems that the Ammonites were particularly loud and offen- 
sive in their exultation at the downfall, first of the kingdom of 

1 Fairbairn's Ezekiel and the Book of his Prophecy, Edinburgh, 185 1 . 

Rabbah. 323 

Israel, and then of Judah, with the desolation of the land and 
the destruction of the temple. But such malignant exultation 
on the part of a kindred people was abominable in the eyes of 
the Lord, who, with a holy jealousy, protected the sanctity of 
his own deep judgments ; and for this and other offences of 
old date, the prophet pronounced the doom of Ammon — the 
doom of extinction upon the people, and of desolation to their 

Sometimes this doom took the shape of a specific denuncia- 
tion against Rabbah, or Rabbath, their capital city, away in 
the country east of the Jordan, and east of the possessions of 
the Israelites on that side the river. David, in his war with 
the Ammonites, took it from them, and annexed it to the terri- 
tories of the tribe of Gad. It will be remembered that the 
siege of this place is notable in the history of David, from his 
deplorable treatment of Uriah, a deserving officer employed in 
that service ; and from the fact, that the conquest was deemed 
of so much importance that the king at last joined the be- 
siegers in person, to take the glory of the final success. 

On the separation of the realm into two kingdoms, this, with 
all the territory beyond the Jordan, went to the kingdom of 
Israel; and when that kingdom was dissolved by the Ass)nians, 
or rather, probably, when the tribes beyond the Jordan were 
first of all led into captivity, the Ammonites quietly took pos- 
session of their ancient territories, and apparently of something 
more. Hence their importance as a nation had materially 
increased when noticed and denounced by the prophets, and 
thus it is that Rabbah is described as then again belonging to 
them ; and it was undoubtedly a very flourishing place when 
Jeremiah foretold that Rabbah of the Ammonites should be- 
come *a desolate heap' — ^Jer. xlix. 2; and Ezekiel, that it 
should become * a stable for camels,' and * a couching place 
for flocks.' 

The doom, once denounced, was surely, though not immedi- 
ately, executed. Indeed, we do not know exactly when it was 
executed. We only know that it has been done ; for as the 
prophets foretold of this city, so at this day it lies. Mean- 

324 Twenty -third Week — Second Day. 

while, however, it enjoyed a new lease of prosperity and wealth 
under the name of Philadelphia, which it derived from Ptolemy 
Philadelphus, who, when the country was annexed to the 
Eg)rptian crown, restored or greatly improved the city, and 
called it after his own name. These foreign names have' rarely, ' 
however, been permanent in that country ; for, while the new 
name would be employed by foreigners, and in all state matters, 
and on coins, the old one remains in use among the great body 
of the people, and sometimes survives in the ruins long after 
the foreign one has been forgotten. So, at the ruins of this 
city, the name of Philadelphia is altogether forgotten, while 
the original name of Rabbath-Ammon exists in the shape of 

The very site of the place was unknown until discovered 
about the beginning of this century, by a German traveller 
called Seetzen. It was visited about twelve years after by 
Burckhardt, an accomplished Swiss traveller in the service of 
an English society, and he has given a very full and satisfactory 
description of the place. Other travellers have since been 
there — ^as Captains Irby and Mangles, Mr. Buckingham, M. 
Laborde, Lord Lindsay, Lord Claud Hamilton, and others; 
but this district lies so remote, that the ancient sites in it are 
much less frequented by travellers than those on the nearer 
side of the Jordan. 

The ruins lie about twenty-two miles east of the Jordan, in 
a valley through which flows a stream of very clear water, fiiU 
of fish. The remains are extensive ; but there are few of im- 
portant buildings, except an amphitheatre, which is of great 
size, and is said to be the most perfect in Syria. There is also 
an ancient castle, with some vestiges of Roman buildings and 
Christian churches. Altogether, there is sufficient to evince 
the former importance of the city, suggesting to the mind a 
melancholy contrast with the desolation in which it now lies. 
The Arabs, who come up periodically into these parts, like to 
harbour in such forsaken sites, for the sake of the shelter they 
can find among the ruins for themselves and their flocks, with 
the additional inducement that water, of good quality, is usually 

Rabbak. 325 

found in such localities. This is an old custom, and the pro- 
phets frequently allude to it as one of the incidents marking 
the desolation of cities bordering on Arabia. The stream of 
fine water at Amman doubtless forms an additional attraction 
to the parties of Arabs who resort to this site of ruins. 

Dr. Keith, in the last edition of his Evidence from Prophecy, 
states that Lord Claud Hamilton told him that, ' while he was 
traversing the ruins of the city, the number of goats and sheep 
which were driven in among them was exceedingly annoying, 
however remarkable as fulfilling the prophecies.' Lord Lind- 
say found bones and skulls of camels mouldering in the area 
of the theatre, and in the vaulted galleries of this immense 
structure. He says : * The valley stinks with dead camels, 
one of which was rolling in the stream ; and although we saw 
none among the ruins, they were absolutely covered in every 
direction with their dung. That morning's ride would have 
convinced a sceptic. How says the prophecy : " I will make 
Rabbah a stable for camels." ' He adds, * We met sheep and 
goats by thousands, and camels by hundreds, coming down to 
drink, all in beautiful condition.' Mr. George Robinson also 
testifies : * The space intervening between the river and the 
western hills is entirely covered with the remains of private 
buildings, now only used as stables for camels and sheep. 
There is not a single inhabitant remaining : thus realizing the 
prophecy respecting this devoted city.' 

These testimonials have occurred since attention has been 
called to the subject of the literal fulfilment of local prophecies. 
We add that of Mr. Buckingham, which is all the more valu- 
able as being of anterior date. He halted for the night with a 
tribe of Arabs which he found encamped among the ruins, in a 
hollow behind the top of the theatre. Next morning he writes 
in his journal : ' During the night I was almost entirely pre- 
vented from sleeping by the bleating of flocks, the neighing of 
mares, and the barking of dogs.' 

These are interesting corroborations of the fulfilment of pro- 
phecy. They must have due weight upon every serious and 
candid mind. We are not sure, however, that too much stress 

326 Twenty-third Week — Second Day. 

has not in some instances been laid upon minute circumstances 
in the illustration of the local prophecies, which circumstances 
will be found rather generic as regards certain sites in a state 
of desolation, than specific in regard to the immediate locality. 
So this doom of a site on the borders of Arabia, becoming the 
resort of Arabs with their flocks and herds, is not confined to 
Rabbah, but is common to other ruined sites throughout this 
region. They are among the appropriate images and illustra- 
tions by which the desolation of cities so situated is expressed 
and made distinct to the mind ; and finding Amman in a state 
of complete desolation, we should know the prophecy had 
been fulfilled not the less surely had we found no camels there. 
It is, however, interesting to find them there ; but it would be 
dangerous to rest our faith upon such minute coincidences, 
and to establish in our minds a standard of verification, which, 
it may be apprehended, the prophets did not contemplate, and 
which cannot in all cases be maintained. 

The thoughtful student of prophecy, while he will not search for, 
and will not expect, in all cases, minute literality in fulfilment, will 
always be ready to accept palpable facts. Ezekiel said of the land 
of Ammon : * Behold, I will deliver thee to the Bene-kedem (men of 
the east) for a possession, and they shall set their encampments 
(palaces) in thee, and pitch their tents (make their dwellings) in 
thee ; they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk.' This 
was unquestionably written as a prophetic judgment ; time has made 
it a historic reality. The Bedawin are the Bene-kedem. They 
encamp now periodically in the land of Ammon. They have con- 
tinued to do so for centuries. They, and they only, eat up the 
fruits of the land. Ezekiel further said, speaking in the name 
of God : * I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Am- 
monites a couching place for flocks.' The city was populous and 
prosperous for many centuries after the death of the prophet — even 
after the close of the whole canon of Scripture. It has now been 
long desolate. Numerous travellers have found the camels of the 
Bedawin crowding its streets, and their flocks filling its ruinous 
and dd^erted houses. These are simple facts. The student of 
prophecy cannot ignore them. It so happens, too, in this, as in 
very many other cases, that the graphic descriptions given by 

Old Tyre. 327 

observant travellers of what they see, prove to be literal and minute 
fulfilments of prophecy. It would be unfaithfulness to ignore this ; 
it would be illogical and untrue to deny it. Prophetic interpretation 
may be overstrained in its application to minute details ; but it may 
also be unwarrantably restricted to vague and unsatisfactory gene- 
ralities. Nothing is gained, besides, by such restriction. So long 
as the prophetic element is admitted at all, it must be admitted 
that the utmost minuteness of detail is as possible and as easy to 
that omniscient God who inspired the prophet, as the barest sketch, 
the iragnest outline, of future events. Wherever and whenever the 
doom pronounced by ancient prophet on city, land, or nation, finds 
a literal realization in after history, we must accept it as a fulfilment 
of prophecy. 

SDtojenlg-lj^irb 3SUjek— SDj^irb gag* 


Tyre, so renowned in the history of commerce and navigation, 
occupies a large place in sacred prophecy. * The prophecies 
respecting Tjrre do not, however, appear to have been always 
discreetly or faithfully explained. The traveller, having read 
these explanations, expects to find nothing more than a bare 
rock, washed by the sea, and covered with nets ; and is sur- 
prised to see a city, and to learn that the spot has never been 
wholly deserted.' ^ 

The truth is, that the island on which the present T)n:e 
stands was the subject of a part only, and that the smallest 
part, of the prophecies respecting Tyre. 

The Tyrian colony seems always to have consisted of an 

island, with a territory on the shore. As a maritime state, a 

' Beldam's Italy and the East, ii. 237. This intelligent and able 
traveller then proceeds to give his own view of the case. This view is 
not new, being almost entirely the same which has repeatedly been given 
by ourselves in the Pictorial Bibley The Land of Promise, etc. As, how- 
ever, we prefer the corroborating testimony of an independent witness to 
the reproduction of our own statements, we avail ourselves, to a consider- 
able extent, of Mr. Beldam's observations. 

328 Twenty-third Week — Third Day. 

port was essential to it ; and that the capital was first on the 
coast, maybe inferred from the earliest mention of it by Joshua, 
where it is described as 'the strong city Tyre.*^ But from 
Hiram's letter to Solomon, as given by Josephus,' and which 
we have no reason to suppose apocryphal, we may gather that 
the island was even then inhabited ; and the language of Isaiah 
shows, that in his day the Tyrians, as might naturally be ex- 
pected of the inhabitants of a maritime state, were known to 
the rest of the world as the * inhabitants of the isle." The 
Tyrian state may thus be regarded as consisting of a city and 
small territory on the mainland, and a port or maritime city on 
the island. The island bore the same relation to the capital 
that the port of Majuma did to Gaza, the Piraeus to Athens, 
the Pharos to Alexandria, or that Leith does to Edinbuigh, 
and Deptford to London. It is possible that the two may have 
been connected by fortified lines along the shore, as at the 
Piraeus, and by a causeway br bridge over the channel, like the 
modem castie of Sidon. We are indeed expressly told by 
Josephus, that, in the days of Hiram, a causeway did unite the 
city and the island. Thus, the old city, the island, and the 
adjacent territory, formed together the state of Tyre, and the 
subject of the prophecies. 

If we look attentively at these prophecies, we shall perceive 
that they have a fourfold operation. They predict the irre- 
trievable ruin of the then existing city, the final loss of maritime 
supremacy, the subversion of the royal dynasty, and a subse- 
quent consecration to the true faith.* These all came to pass 
in their season ; but not precisely in the way that some have 
imagined. It is, indeed, obvious that the whole of the predic- 
tions could not refer to the same spot. The question is, how 
to apply them ; and time and history may help us through the 

The first class of predictions foretold the destruction of the 
city. This was to be complete and irretrievable. Not only 
were walls, towers, edifices, to be demolished, but they were 

^ Josh. xix. 29. ' Aniiq, lib. viii. 2, 7. > Isa. zziii. 2. 

^ Isa. xxiii. ; Jer. xxvii. 3, xlvii. 4 ; Ezek. xxvi. xxviL zzviiiu 

Old Tyre. 329 

also to disappear; the very dust was to be scraped away; it was 
to be built no more ; and, though sought after, was never to be 
found.^ To what city do these predictions apply ? Certainly 
not to Insular Tyre, — for that was never totally destroyed ; its 
edifices have never totally disappeared; and the dust has 
accumulated, instead of being scraped away firom the rock on 
which it stands. It has been often rebuilt, and that with great 
magnificence; it has never ceased to be inhabited; and its 
place has always been well known. But these predictions do 
apply with a singular and remarkable accuracy to Old Tyre ; 
and the incidents of the siege confirm their application to that 
city. There was to be a fort and mount raised against it ; the 
city was to be covered with the dust of cavalry, and the walls 
to be shaken at the noise of horses and chariot-wheels. The 
historical particulars of the siege are not extant ; but enough 
remains, in the statement of Josephus, to show that the city 
fell, as predicted, beneath the arms of Nebuchadnezzar, and 
was dismantled, if not entirely destroyed.' But the most re- 
markable part of the prophecy was suspended : It was foretold 
that this same city should become a place for the spreading of 
nets in the midst of the sea ; that the stones, the timber, and 
the dust should be laid in the midst of the water ; that the deep 
should be brought up over it ; that great waters should cover 
it; and that it should be set in the low parts of the earth.' A 
portion of this prophecy may indeed apply to Insular Tyre, but 
the most striking reference is to the old city. But how was 
so unlikely a thing to be accomplished, except by an influx of 
the sea, which some have supposed, but of which there are no 
geological or historical proofs? This, indeed, the prophecy 
may well have suggested to those who heard it ; but this was 
not the purpose the Lord had in view ; and the imagination of 
man could scarcely have conceived the mode of its accomplish- 
ment, much less have foreseen it, and made it the subject of a 
confident and authoritative prediction. It is this specialty 
which gives the most commanding interest to this and other 

1 Isa. xxiil ; Ezek. xxvi * JOSEPH. Antiq. x. 6; contra Apion^ i. 21. 
3£zek. xxvi. 

330 Twenty-third Week— Third Day. 

prophecies, and which renders them so powerful for the con- 
viction of gainsayers. It were a small matter to predict, in a 
general way, one out of the only two or three possible circum- 
stances ; but it was something to foretell a circumstance, the 
like of which had never before occurred, and that could not 
occur at any other place. 

It was thus : From the days of Nebuchadnezzar to those of 
Alexander the Great, the old city had lain in a dismantled con- 
dition ; and during all this time the prophecy had been but 
half accomplished. The Tynans had meanwhile fortified 
themselves in their island-city, had regained their maritime 
supremacy, and resumed their former arrogance and pride. 
Two centuries before, their ruin had been effected by a people 
of recent origin, and previously almost unknown ; and again it 
was to be effected by a nation from beyond seas, and one still 
less to be expected or feared. 

The old city became, in fact, the means of destroying the 
new. When Alexander appeared against Tyre, he found its 
insular position a serious obstacle to one who had no fleet; and 
the resource that occurred to him is worthy of the genius of 
that great commander, and most undesignedly wrought out the 
whole purpose of God respecting Old Tyre. The presence, 
close by, of the abundant ruins of the old city, suggested to 
him the feasibility of employing them for the construction of a 
mole or breakwater, connecting the mainland with the island, 
and over which his troops might march up to the walls of the 
beleaguered town. It was an immense work, two hundred feet 
broad ; and the vast quantity of materials it required may easily 
be conceived. In constructing it, the Old Tyre was removed 
bodily into the sea — stones, timber, earth, even to tite Tcxy dnst 
— all was removed. There it still lies, in that immense cause- 
way, and forms a place for the spreading of nets as the prophet 
foretold. What eye but that of Omniscience could have fore- 
seen this strange result, at a time when Old T)a*e stood in all 
her pride and glory, and proudly said, * I shall be a queen for 
ever ?' And who but his inspired servants could then have said 
to her, * They shall lay thy stones, and thy timber, and thy 

Insular Tyre. 331 

dust, in the midst of the waters ;* ' thou shalt be no more : 
though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found 
again?' This last intimation is as surprising as any. The 
utter disappearance of all trace of an important ancient city is 
one of the rarest things that can happen, and is truly marvellous. 
Yet it is true here, as predicted, and true here only ; affording 
another instance of that specialty which is so observable in the 
prophecies concerning Tyre. Not only has the town never 
been built again, but it is wholly extinct ; and travellers look 
narrowly, but in vain, for any vestige of it. Of no city that 
history records, has there, perhaps, been so complete an obli- 
teration — the sand now covering the greater part of the space 
within which it must have stood. * It is remarkable,' says Dr. 
Wilde, who has given by far the best account of Tyre that 
we possess, *how frequently this agent has been used for 
thus wiping out ancient cities from the face of the earth. 
Babylon, Thebes, Memphis, Luxor, Carthage, ancient Alex- 
andria, Jericho, Balbec, Palmyra, have all been more or less 
invaded by this destroying agent, which, though slower than 
the flame or the torrent, is not the less sure and fatal.' 


When Alexander, by means so remarkably fulfilling prophecies 
of which he had no knowledge, obtained access for his forces 
to the island, he soon made himself master of the city. The 
Tyrians, indeed, made a most valorous and obstinate defence, 
which, however, served only to complete their doom ; for the 
conqueror was so exasperated by the resistance he encountered, 
as well as by the long delay occasioned to the execution of his 
designs against Egypt, that he treated the inhabitants with a 
degree of severity which has left a great stain upon his character. 
Besides 8000 men slain in the attack, 2000 were crucified after 
the city was taken, and 30,000 of the captives were sold for 

332 Twenty-third Week — Fourth Day. 

slaves. This also was a point of retributive judgment fore- 
shown by the prophet. Tyre, among its other merchandise, 
dealt in * the persons of men,' and to its great mart numbers 
of the sons and daughters of Israel had been taken for sale. 
The merchants of Tyre made fine bargains there. They specu- 
lated largely, knowing well how to bear away in their ships to 
the dearest markets the commodity which they could buy so 
cheaply at home. But the Lord observed this ; and their dis- 
gusting avidity in making gain out of the flesh and blood of 
their neighbours, between whom and them a friendliness of 
ancient date had subsisted, and who latterly had many interests 
in common, displeased Him greatly, and this doom was passed 
upon them : * Behold, I will return your recompense upon your 
own head, and will sell your sons and daughters.' 

The city was finally set on fire by the victors. This also 
had been foretold : * The Lord will cast her out : and He will 
smite her power in the sea, and she shall be devoured with fire! 

But Alexander dealt her a more fatal blow than this — a blow 
from which she never recovered, — again accomplishing those 
predictions which connected this overthrow with the destnic- 
tion of her maritime supremacy of so ancient date. * Up to 
that period Tyre still remained mistress of the seas, and its 
commerce was universaL The epitome of its merchandise 
given by the prophet Ezekiel (chap, xxvii.), is one of the most 
curious and interesting records of antiquity. But the blow 
which levelled Insular Tyre was to terminate its maritime 
glory for ever. What uninspired writer could have foresea 
such a consequence ? It had rallied once ; and why not rally 
again ? No ! The commerce of the whole world must be 
changed, and a new port and mart be founded in a land the 
least accessible to strangers, the most averse to maritime 
affairs, and which must first be conquered in order to complete 
the maritime ruin of Tyre. But all this was done. The erec- 
tion of the port and city of Alexandria did, in fact, accomplish 
it ; and henceforth the supremacy of Tyre disappeared. Pliny, 
in describing it a few years [centuries ?] later, after extolling 
the ancient renown, observes : "But at this day all the glory 

Insular Tyre. 333 

and reputation thereof standeth upon the dye of purple and 
crimson colours."^ Tyre continued still to be a frequented 
port ; but its commerce was ever after limited and provincial'" 

It thus continued to enjoy some degree of local prosperity 
down to the time of the Crusades, when Benjamin of Tudela 
described it as * a very beautiful city, the port of which is in 
the very town.' But when the power of the Christians in 
Palestine declined, and the town was taken from them in 129 1 
by Khalil, sultan of Egypt, the conqueror razed it to the 
ground, that it might never more afford a stronghold or har- 
bour to his enemies. It was never restored to any kind of 
importance, and has remained to this day little better than a 
poor village and a fishing station, for which it has been well 
adapted, standing as it does out into the sea, since it has 
ceased to be frequented by commercial navies. This also was 
foretold by Ezekiel, who declares that it should become 'a 
place for the spreading of nets, in the midst of the sea.' The 
image of desolation here employed — ^that of fishors spreading 
out their nets to dry on the site of a once flourishing town — is 
as natural of a place situated on the sea-coast, as that of 
feeding and stabling cattle (as before noticed in Rabbah) is for 
inland desolation. And as fishermen naturally spread out 
their nets on any convenient spot — a beach, or a naked rock, — 
it only becomes necessary to say that T)rre has become a 
fishing station, to show that this prophecy has been accom- 
plished, without our being obliged to find — ^though we can do 
so — that some traveller has happened to say that he saw nets 
spread out to dry upon the strand. 

Travellers of the seventeenth century notice the abundance 
of fish here. One of them, after alluding to the former great- 
ness of Tyre, says : * But this once famous Tyre is now no other 
than a heap of ruins ; yet they have a reverent aspect, and do 
instruct the pensive beholder by their exemplary frailty." 
Huet speaks of a monk who told him how strongly the predic- 
tion of Ezekiel was brought to his mind when he approached 

^ Plin. Nat, Hist. ix. 36. ' Beldam, Italy and the East^ ii. 242. 

3 Sandy's Travailes, 

334 Twenty-third Week — Fourth Day. 

the ruins of Tyre, and beheld the rocks stretching forth to the 
sea, and the large stones strewed upon the shore, made smooth 
by the sun, the waves, and the wind, on which the fishermen 
dried their nets}. Our own Maundrell, towards the close of the 
same century, said : * The present inhabitants are only a few 
poor wretches harbouring themselves in the vaults, and sub- 
sisting chiefly upon fishing ; who seem to be pictured in this 
place as a visible argument how God has fulfilled his word 
concerning. T)nre, that it should be as the top of a rock, a place 
for fishers to dry their nets on.' A century later, Volney, 
whose avowed unbelief in revelation renders his testimonies of 
special value, describes the place as still little better than * a 
village, containing only fifty or sixty poor families, who live 
but indifferently upon the produce of their little grounds and a 
trifling fishery ^ It revived a little, especially under the rule of 
the Egyptian pasha ; but the increasing shallowness of the 
harbour, and the rising prosperity of the neighbouring ports, 
have brought it back to its previous condition ; and the latest 
traveller * found it a wretched and deserted village, though 
still affording a fine little harbour for boats.'* 

The third class of predictions concerning Tyre,' foretells the 
ruin of the ancient dynasty, so often mentioned in Scriptiu-e. 
The fulfilment, though less clearly recorded, may be inferred 
firom Josephus, who, professedly quoting from Phoenician 
records, gives us to understand that, from the time of the 
destruction of Old Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar, the reigning 
family were captives in Babylon ; and that the state was 
thenceforth governed by judges, or princes, delegated by the 
Babylonian kings,* until the conquest by Alexander, from which 
time its independence entirely ceased. 

There is yet another prophecy," speaking of a time when the 
merchandise and hire of Tyre should be holiness to the Lord. 

2 HuET in Demonstratio Evangelica, The monk's name was Hadrian 

2 Neale's Ei^ht Years in Syrian Palestine, and Asia-Minor. 1 851. 

3 Ezek. xxviii. * JOSEPH, contra Apion^ iii. 21. 
^ Isa. xxiii. 18. 

Sepulchres of A sshur and Elani. 335 

This may possibly refer to that assistance which Tyre was after- 
wards obliged to yield to the rebuilding and service of the new 
temple at Jerusalem, as mentioned by Ezra.^ Or, like other 
predictions of a similar kind by Isaiah, it may have foretold the 
early conversion of this city to Christianity. Certain it is that 
both results did follow. Within a few years after the publica- 
tion of the gospel, a Christian church was formed at Tyre. 

Ctonfff-tj^irir Mn\—i&i\ gag. 


In this passage the nations are represented as lying entombed 
in the state of death. The expressions which describe them 
in that state are, at the first view, very similar ; but, on closer 
inspection, we find varying phrases introduced, from which 
we collect that, amidst the terms of general description, there 
are indications of particular customs' of sepulture among the 
nations to which the words apply. The idea that this chapter 
contains such allusions to divers sepulchral conditions, was 
first started, we think, by Mr. Charles Taylor in his Fragments 
to Caimei, But his elucidations of it are not well carried out ; 
and we shall, tlierefore, in adopting his idea, give it our own 

This writer well remarks, that * the numerous references in 
the sacred Scriptures to sepulchres supposed to be well peopled, 
would be misapplied to nations that burned their dead, as the 
Greeks and Romans did ; or to those who committed them to 
rivers, as the Hindus ; or to those who expose them to birds 
of prey, as the Parsees ; nor would the phrase " to go down to 
the sides of the pit" be strictly applicable to, or properly de- 
scriptive of, that mode of burial which prevails among ourselves 
— single graves, admitting one body only, in width or in length, 
having no openings on the sides to which the bodies may be 
said to go down.* On this we may observe, without at present 
entering into further illustration, that the frequently recurring 

' Ezra iii 6, 7. 

336 Twenty-third Week^-Fifth Day. 

expression in this passage, ' down to the sides of the pit,' has 
a very inadequate explanation in the sepulchral chambers — 
natural or excavated caverns, in the sides of which were recesses 
for the corpses. Many sepulchres of this description exist in 
Palestine, and in different parts of Western Asia. 

The first reference is to Asshur or Assyria, ^ whose graves 
are set in the sides of the pit.' It might have been hoped that 
the recent discoveries at Nineveh would throw some light on 
this subject In this hope we have diligently explored the 
French and English books which treat of these discoveries, 
and have carefully examined all the engravings they contain, 
as well as the actual sculptures in this country, but tlie subject 
is as much in the dark as before. La3rard, in acknowledging 
this, can only conjecture, from the resemblance between the 
two nations in other respects, that the funeral ceremonies of 
the Assyrians and those of the Persians were similar. This is 
no more than we long ago maintained ; and the conjecture is 
corroborated by the very analogous terms in which the prophet 
speaks next of Elam, or Persia. That the Persians, and also 
the Babylonians, had modes of sepulture analogous to those of 
the Assyrians, is further confirmed by the resemblance in the 
many existing tombs on the Tigris and the Euphrates, some of 
whidh we ourselves have had the opportunity of examining 
with great interest and attention. These contain urns, usually 
of earthenware, lined with bitumen and sometimes glazed, and 
in which, when opened, bones and dust are found. They are 
discovered in almost every situation — ^in mounds of ruins, in 
the diflfs on rivers, and even in the thick walls of ancient towns 
and fortresses. In some places, where the bank has &llen 
away, or where the stream has cut it perpendicularly, its steep 
fece shows multitudes of such urns, from the top of the diflf 
down to the water's edge. With the knowledge that each um 
contains the mortal remains of a human being, who lived in 
ancient times, and with the recollection that what we witnessed 
were but the edges of broad layers of urns, the sight was veiy 
awful, suggesting such an idea of the exceeding populousness 
of the grave, as we have never found any other occasion of 

Sepulchres o/Asskur and Elam, 337 

realizing with equal force. * Asshur is there and all her com- 
pany' — * There is Elam, and all her multitude round about her 

The places in which these urns occur, in every variety of 
form and size, with the manner in which they are arranged, 
sometimes in regular rows, and sometimes not, and having 
occasionally lines of brickwork connected with them, may 
sanction the idea suggested by one of the Parsee books, called 
the Desatiry that most of the public buildings had within their 
mass receptacles of various kinds, such as cellars, niches, etc., 
for these sepulchral urns. Sepulchral they certainly are, from 
the nature of the contents ; but as few of them are large enough 
to contain the adult human body, the corpse could not have 
been deposited entire, but must have been subjected to some 
process of decomposition. The common statement, that bodies 
were not burnt in this region, is incorrect, for we ourselves 
have seen bones that bore manifest traces of the action of fire. 
But this was not always, nor perhaps often, the case ; and we 
incline to think that the curious old book to which we have 
referred supplies a sufficient and satisfactory explanation. This 
work consists of a short ancient text, with a longer and more 
recent comment. The passage bearing on the present subject 
is one of curious interest, not only fi*om the account it gives of 
the modes of sepulture in those regions, but from the illustra- 
tion it suggests of some passages of Scripture bearing on the 
subject The lines marked in italics seem to afford an ex- 
planation of the passage before us, taken in connection with 
the particulars already furnished from our personal observation. 
The text is simply this : ' A corpse you may place in a vase of 
aquafortis, or consign it to the fire, or to the earth.' The 
appended comment is this : * The usage of the Fersendajians 
(Persians) regarding the dead was this. After the soul had 
departed, they washed the body in pure water, and dressed it 
in clean and perfumed vestments. They then put it into a 
vase of aquafortis, arid when the body was dissolved, carried 
the liquid far from the city, and poured it out; or else they 
burned it in the fire, after attiring it as hath been said ; or they 


338 Twenty-third Week — Sixth Day. 

made a dame and formed a deep pit within ity which they hmlt 
and whitened J with stone^ brick^ and mortar; and on its ee^ 
niches were constructed^ and platforms erected^ on which the dead 
were deposited; or they buried a vase in the earth, enclosing 
[the remains of] the corpse therein; or they buried it in a 
coffin in the ground. But, in the estimation of the Fersen- 
dajians, the most eligible of all these was the vase of aquafortis.' 
And with reason, we should think. It is the most poetical 
and suggestive mode of sepulture we ever met with, and brings 
to mind the saying of the wise woman of Tekoah : * We are as 
water spilt on the groimd, which cannot be gathered up again.' 
We know, however, that the custom of rock-sepulture was in 
use among the Persians for their most distinguished dead. 

Cfotntsr-tj^rir Meek— Siftj^ gag, 


Having in a former portion of this volume given much atten- 
tion to the history of Cyrus, in its connection with sacred pro- 
phecy, we cannot neglect the opportunity which is afiR^ed by 
the mention of Persian sepulchres, of following the hero to bis 
last earthly home. 

It is dear that, whatever were the ordinary modes of sepul- 
ture among the Per^ans, their princes, and (at least in &e 
provinces of the emjHre) the high satraps or grandees, had 
sepulchres hewn in the rock. The * sepulchres on high,' of 
which the Scripture speaks, were especially coveted by them. 
Those of the better sort are found to have been placed so 
high up on the face of perpendicular cliffs as to be macces- 
sible, without more exertion, hazard, and contrivance, than 
most persons are able or willing to expend in the task. Such 
tombs had the twofold advantage of being safer from desecra- 
tion, and of exhibiting to more advantage their sculptured 
fronts. The Mpuntain of Sepulchres at Nakhsh-i-Rustam 
offers tiie most remarkable example of this practice. Here are 

TJie Tomb of Cyrus. 339 

many tombs, perhaps forming, collectively, the royal sepulchres. 
They are excavated in an almost perpendicular cliff, about 300 
yards high. They are in two rows, of which the highest are 
four tombs, evidently of great antiquity, while those below are 
of inferior workmanship and later date. The four are alike, 
each presenting a highly sculptured front, and each crowned 
with a representation of that act of Sabaean worship which has 
been copied in p. 124 of the present volume. Sir Robert Ker 
Porter obtained access to one of them by being hauled up with 
a rope by some active natives, who had contrived to clamber 
up to the ledge in front of the tomb. He found the sepulchral 
chamber to be thirty-four feet long and nine feet high ; but it 
had long been despoiled of its contents. This tomb, which is 
in better preservation than the others, has the front charged 
with inscriptions, copies of which have lately been secured by 
the antiquarian zeal of Mr. Tasker, who died of a fever brought 
on by the toil and exposure he encountered while engaged in 
this work, hanging by a rope from the summit of the rock. 
The decipherment of these inscriptions by Colonel Rawlinson 
has confirmed the conjecture of Porter, that this is the tomb 
which Darius Hystaspis caused to be made for himself in his 

The tomb of Cyrus was of a different and more distinguished 
character. It was not excavated in the rock, but built solidly 
as a rock. A description of it is furnished by Arrian, firom the 
account of an eye-witness, one Aristobulus : * The tomb of 
Cyrus was in the royal paradise at Pasargada, having around it 
a grove of various trees, with abundance of water, and rich 
grass in the meadow. The tomb was below of a quadrangular 
shape, built of freestone. On this was a house of stone, with a 
roof. The door that leads into it is so narrow that a man of 
average height can with difficulty get in. Inside was a golden 
sarcophagus, in which the body of Cyrus was laid. Near it was 
a couch with golden feet ; and the coverings were Babylonian 
carpets, and costly cloths of various colours, the manufacture 
of Babylon and Media. There were also chains, cimeters, and 
ornaments of gold and precious stones. Close by was a small 

34Q Twenty-third Week — Sixth Day. 

house for the magi, to whom, since the time of Cambyses (the 
son of Cyrus), the care of the tomb had been entrusted, and 
had so continued from fathers to sons. On the tomb was 
engraved, in Persian, an inscription to the effect, " O man, I 
am Cyrus, who gave the empire to the Persians, and was lord 
of all Asia ; therefore, grudge me not my sepulchre*"* 

Some things in this description have been ill understood by 
translators and explainers ; but it seems to us perfectly intelli- 
gible, from what we have seen of the interior of the sepulchres 
of saints and royal persons in modem Persia, and indeed in 
Turkey. These are arranged and furnished much in the style 
here described. In the centre of the chamber stands a kind of 
sarcophagus of an oblong figure, and generally higher than a 
man, gready resembling in shape the hut-like upper portion of 
the monument of Cyrus, as shown in the engraving. This is 
usually of some valuable wood ; and the sides are hung round 
with rich cloths, most frequently velvet, laced with gold or 
silver ; the roof being left uncovered, and the inscription run- 
ning along the ledge, between the roof and the perpendicular 
sides. This seems to give a correct idea of what is meant by 
the description, except that the sarcophagus was of gold ; so 
that the precious metal, of which the whole was composed, 
shone in the uncovered roof above the rich hangings which 
enveloped the sides. Either to this kind of sarcophagus, or to 
the couch which is said to have been placed beside it in the 
tomb of Cyrus, the prophet's expression, ' a bed in the midst 
of the slain,* may very well be supposed to refer. Among the 
Turks, these constructions are usually lower, and rounded at 
the top ; and the costly coverings are laid over the whole, with 
the royal turban and cimeter placed upon them. We have no 
doubt that the weapons and ornaments, which are mentioned 
as in the tomb of Cyrus, were those which he himself had used. 

When Alexander the Great visited this tomb, his officers 
grepdily surveyed the rich spoil it offered ; but the conqueror, 
having had the inscription explained to him, forbade that 
aught of its contents should be touched. AVhen, however, he 
returned from Bactria, he found the tomb despoiled of all its 

The Tomb of Cyrus. 341 

treasures ; at which he was so wroth, that he ordered the per- 
petrator to be put to death, although a Macedonian of high 
rank and influence. 

The tomb of Cyrus still exists in die plains of Murghab, and 
has been described by different travellers. Its appearance 
is accurately given, after Ker Porter, whose description is also 
the best It stands in a wide area, marked outwardly by the 
broken shafts of twenty-four circular columns, which surround 
the building in the form of a square. The base on which the 
tomb stands is composed of immense blocks of white marble. 
A succession of gigantic steps completes, in a pyramidal form, 
the pedestal of this truly royal tomb — majestic both in its 
simplicity and in its vastness. The lowest range of the founda- 

tion is 43 feet by 37 ; and the edifice itself, which crowns the 
summit, diminishes to 21 feet by 16 feet 5 inches. It is 
covered with a shelving roof, built of the same massive stones 
as its base and sides, which are all fixed together by clamps of 
iron. The key of the tomb is in the charge of women, and 
ostensibly females only are admitted to the interior ; but Porter 
found means of prevailing upon the two old guardians of the 
great king's torob to admit him. The tomb is quite empty. 
The walls were found to be a solid mass of store, five feet 
thick ; and the chamber ten feet long, seven feet wide, and 
eight feet in height. The whole interior surface is of polished 
marble, much blackened by time, and broken away in many 

342 Twenty-third Week — Sixth Day. 

parts as if by violence. There is no inscription in the andent 
cuneiform character, which confirms our impression that it was 
on the sarcophagus itself. The identity of the tomb, however, 
has been established beyond all reasonable doubt, by the dis- 
covery of an inscription upon a pillar hard by, consisting of 
four words, repeated in three different species of the wedge-like 
writing. This the learned Orientalist Lassen has rendered into 
Roman equivalents, thus : Adam Qurus Ksh&jathija Hakhdr 
manisija ; and translates it, ^ I am Cyrus, the king, the Achae- 
menian.' This inscription, so beautiful in its simplicity, and so 
indicative, by its want of Oriental inflation, of the character of 
the man, is doubtless the original of the inscription which the 
Greek narrators amplified as above. It is indeed curious that 
Onesicratus, and Aristus of Salamis, have preserved a Greek 
hexameter, which, it is pretended, was engraved by the side of 
the Persian legend, and which is almost as simple as the 
original : ' Here I, Cyrus, king of kings, rest' 

The remaining allusions (Ezek. xxxii. 26-28) are to the 
sepulchral rites of ' Mesbech, Tubal, and all her multitude/ 
who are described as going down to the grave 'with their 
weapons of war,' and ' their swords under their heads.' This is 
singularly appropiiate to the nations supposed to be indicated— 
those lying between and to the north of the Euxine and Caspian 
Seas. And that their 'iniquities shall be upon their bones/ 
may very well be supposed to refer to the vast heaps of earth, 
answering to the ancient British barrows, which that people 
piled oyer the corpses of their deceased kings and chie&, 
deposited under them with all their ornaments and weapons of 
war. In the region supposed to be indicated, we have observed 
great numbers of such mounds or artificial hills, generally in 
the form of a broad cone, more or less obtuse — ^that is, rounded 
at top; and distinguishable only from natural hills by the 
uniformity of their shapes, being generally overgrown with fine 
herbage, and sometimes garnished with trees and bushes. They 
are seen in the open steppes, where no natural hills occur; 
and also in the beautiful enclosed plains of the Caucasian 
region, bordered by a belt of natural mountains. Their isola- 

DanieL 343 

tion in such enclosed plains gives them their distinctive cha- 
racter ; and the view always impressed us with the idea, that we 
witnessed in these mounds, so situated, the grandest cemetery 
the mind of man had ever devised. 

The Zidonian or Phoenician sepulchres are alluded to, but 
not very distinctively, perhaps because they differed but little 
from those of the Jews. In the country by the coast, there 
are found various sepulchral chambers, with very elegant sar- 
cophagi or chests <^ stone, with moveable covers, which have 
generally been cast off and broken, probably in the search for 
treasure. These sarcophagi were no doubt intended for, or 
may have been removed from, the sepulchral chambers below, 
in the sides of which there are narrow cells, wide enough to 
admit one of these stone coffins, and long aiough to contain 
two or three of them. They are found to the north of Zidon, 
in the way between that place and Beirut.^ 

Ctojentg^-tj^irir Wx^—^t^txsS^ gay. 


In the third year of his reign, king Jehoiakim was besieged in 
Jerusalem by the Chaldeans ; and, being constrained to sub- 
mit, he was, by order of Nebuchadnezzar, laden with chains, 
with the purpose of sending him away to Babylon, But the 
conqueror afterwards relented, and restored to him his crown. 
Many persons of high family, and some even of the royal blood, 
were, however, sent away to Babylon, together with a portion 
of the treasures and sacred vessels of the temple. This was, 
in fact, the first Babylonish captivity, and was about seven 
years prior to that in which Jehoiachin, the son of this king, 
with tlie prophet Ezekiel, was carried into exile. This was 
the first-fruits of that vintage which left the vine of Israel bare. 
That which was taken was what, in men or in substance, 
seemed most precious. The captives were, no doubt, selected 
^ See lUiistiation in Evening Series, Fourth Week — Fifth Day. 

344 Twenty-third Week — Seventh Day. 

partly to be living monuments in Babylon of the triumphs 
which its king had won, and of the punishments which he had 
inflicted ; and partly as hostages for the fidelity of the families 
to which they belonged, and, through the influence of these 
families, of the nation at large. 

Among those captives was Daniel — a man destined, in the 
providence of God, to take a prominent part in the affairs of 
Babylon, and thus to acquire an influence which enabled him 
to be of much service to the Jews in their state of exile. He 
was quite a youth when sent into captivity ; but he rose early 
to distinction, and lived to see the ending of that seventy years 
of exile which he had been one of the first to taste. 

Daniel had been carefully brought up ; and, young as he 
was, his heart was imbued with that reverence for the law, 
with those high principles, and with that deep sense of his 
duty to God, which carried him not safely only, but victori- 
ously, through the temptations of a luxurious court, and the 
perils of high station. 

On the arrival of the exiles at Babylon, the comeliest and 
most promising of the youths were set apart, with a view to 
their receiving in the palace, under the chief of the eunuchs, 
such education and training in the learning and tongue of the 
Chaldeans, as might qualify them for future emplo3mient in 
the service of the court or the state. It is curious to find thus 
early a practice which, until within these few years, might be 
seen in active and well-organized operation at the Ottoman 
Porte. The parallel is indeed so exact, that there is not a 
single point which might not receive illustration from that 
source. The time is still within living memory, when the pages 
of the seraglio, the officers of the court, as well as the greater 
part of the high functionaries of state and governors of pro- 
vinces, were originally boys of Christian parentage, who had 
been taken captive in war, or bought or stolen in time of peace. 
The finest and most capable of these were sent to the palace, 
and placed under the charge of the chief of the white eunuchs. 
These lads were brought up in the religion of their masters ; 
and in a school within the palace, they received such complete 

Daniel. 345 

instruction in Turkish learning and science as it was the lot of 
few others to obtain. Much pains was taken to teach them to 
speak the Turkish language (to them a foreign one) with the 
greatest purity, as spoken at court. They were clad neatly, 
and well but temperately dieted. They slept in large dor- 
mitories, where there were long rows of beds. Each had a 
separate couch, and between every third or fourth bed lay a 
white eunuch, who kept a watchful eye upon the conduct of 
the lads near him, and reported his observations to his chief. 

When they reached a proper age, the youths were instructed 
in military exercises, and it was an aim to render them active, 
brave, and laborious. Every one was also, according to the 
custom of the country, taught some handicraft emplo)anent to 
serve him as a resource in any time of need. 

Their education being completed, those who had shown 
most capacity were employed about the person of the sove- 
reign, and the rest were assigned to the various offices of the 
extensive establishment to which they belonged. In due time 
these able or successful young men got advanced to high court 
offices, which gave them immediate access to the royal person 
— ^an advantage which soon paved the way to their going out 
on military commands, or to take the government of provinces. 
It has not rarely happened, that favoured court officers have 
at once stepped into the highest offices of the state, without 
having been previously abroad in the world as pashas or mili- 
tary commanders. 

Now, if the reader examines the chapter before him, he will 
perceive how much this agrees with the usage of the ancient 
Babylonian court. 

Daniel was one of the Jewish youths chosen to be thus taken 
into the royal palace of Babylon. Three others are named on 
account of what subsequently happened to them, and because 
they were friends of Daniel, and shared his principles and 
views. These were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. It was, 
however, the custom to give Chaldean names to the foreign 
youths thus admitted to the palace, and thus Daniel acquired 
the sonorous but heathenish name of Belteshazzar, while the 

346 Twenty-third Week — Seventh Day. 

others became Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedcego. ITie veiy 
same was done by the Turks to tiie youths of whom we hare 
just spoken : their original names having been speedily ex- 
changed for such as the Turkish Moslems delight in. Names 
are almost always changed with a change of religion ; but as 
nothing of the kind took place in the case before us, we must 
regard it as sufficiently explained by the general practice of 
changing the native names of foreign slaves — a practice which 
is as well illustrated by the existing usage in regard to the 
names of n^gro slaves, as by any other example that might be 
adduced. We have an instance similar to the present in the 
case of Joseph, showing that the practice was also Egyptian, 
and extremely ancient It seems nncertain whether the Baby- 
lonians had any particular ideas as to the names they gave in 
such circumstances. As in the case of those taken into the 
palace with a view to the public service, it must have been 
desired to obliterate the most conspicuous mark of foreign 
origin, the names were probably (as among the Turks) such as 
were in use among themselves. No such names, indeed, occur 
among those of native Babylonians that we possess, but these 
are too few to supply any evidence. That of Daniel himself 
indeed — Bel/^hazzar — ^resembles that of a subsequent king of 
Babylon. But it is a syllable longer .; and from the meaning of 
these names, as well as from their fulness of sound, they have no 
marks of that triviality by which it is now more usually sought 
to mark the servile condition. The Athenians, in particulai; 
are reported to have been very careful that the names they 
gave to their slaves should not be names accounted dignified 
or respectable^ They commonly gave them short najnes, sel- 
dom of more than two syllables — ^probably that they might be 
the more easily and quickly pronounced, when those to whom 
they belonged were called by their masters. In modem 
practice, however, it is curious that in the American slave 
states such 'respectable and dignified' names as Cs&sar and 
Fompey are given to slaves, and become, in tiie estimation of 
the general American public, so debased by that servile use;, 
that although they ransack not only sacred, but Greek and 

Daniel. 347 

Roman history, for distinctive and unusual Christian names, 
they carefiilly avoid those which they have thus appropriated 
to slaves. We give the same names to our dogs : in both 
wa3rs an indignity being inflicted upon illustrious names, little 
contemplated by the personages who made these names im- 

In the characters and works of the sacred writers we observe 
features as distinct, and peculiarities of thought, style, and imagery 
as marked, as in ordinary writers. The fact of their inspiration 
does not appear in this respect to have at all affected those * holy 
men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost/ 
We have the commanding tone, the lofty style, and high poetic 
genius of Isaiah. We have the melancholy, desponding tempera- 
ment, and deep, touching pathos of Jeremiah. We have the rugged 
eloquence, and startling denunciations, and mysterious imagery of 
Ezekiel. And we have the political sagacity, and dauntless courage, 
and wondrous prospective delineation of national history in DanieL 
Daniel, in fact, was the statesman-prophet, as Joseph was the states- 
man-patriarch. There are many striking points of resemblance 
between these two great Old Testament worthies. They were both 
led captive to foreign lands. They both attracted notice in the 
first instance by their youthful beauty of person. They were both 
exposed to imminent danger by noble resistance to temptation. 
They were both raised to all but supreme power by divine wisdom, 
exhibited chiefly in the interpretation of dreams. They were both 
instrumental in saving their own people. 

A recent writer has well described the position, influence, and 
work of Daniel : * Daniel and Joseph stand at the beginning and 
the close of the divine history of the Jews, as representatives of the 
true God in heathen courts. In this respect the position of Daniel 
must have exercised a powerful influence upon the form of the 
revelations conveyed through him. And, in turn, the authority which 
he enjoyed, renders the course of the exile and the return clearly 
intelligible. By station, by education, and by character, he was 
peculiarly fitted to fulfil the work assigned to him. He was not 
only a resident in a foreign land, like Jeremiah or Ezekiel, but the 
minister of a foreign empire, and of successive dynasties. His 
political experience would naturally qualify him to give distinct 
expression to the characteristics of nations in themselves, and not 
only in their relation to God's people. His intellectual advantages 

348 Twenty-third Week — Seventh Day. 

were as remarkable as his civil dignity. Like the great lawgiver, 
who was * trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians/ the great seer 
was trained in the secrets of Chaldaean wisdom, and placed at the 
head of the school of the magi. He was thus enabled to preserve 
whatever was true in the traditional teaching of the East, and to 
cast his revelations into a form suited to their special character. 
But though engaged in the service of a heathen prince, and familiar 
with oriental learning, Daniel was from the first distinguished by 
his strict observance of the Mosaic law. In this way the third con- 
dition of his work was satisfied, and at the close of the exile he 
offered a pattern of holiness for the instruction of the Dispersion of 
after times.' ^ 

^ Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, s. v. Daniel. 


®tejentg-fottrt|^ WSUtk — ^%x%t gag. 

I THE learner's AID. — DANIEL L 17* 

God is a good paymaster. Give what we may to Him of faith, 
or work, or trust, or love, or zeal, He gives back again with 
large interest — ^good measure, pressed down, and shaken to- 
gether, and running over — ten, twenty, thirty, sixty, or a hundred- 
fold, in whatever we need most from Him. 

The history of Daniel strikingly proves this ; and it may be 
clearly seen even in that early portion of his history with which 
we are now engaged. 

He entered the palace of the proud heathen king, into whose 
hand Judah had been given for her faithlessness, with full pur- 
pose of heart to preserve his integrity, and to keep his soul 
undefiled from the various temptations which, in such a place, 
there was much reason to fear would assail him. With this pur- 
pose before him — in carrying which out he might reckon upon 
treatment hard for the young to bear, not only from the officers 
of the palace, but from his own less scrupulous and less pious 
companions ; the sneers, the shrugs, the taunts, which fall so 
keenly upon the raw sensitiveness of the youthful spirit — the 
thing most essential to smooth his path was the favour and 
kindness of the chief of the eunuchs. This he gained imme- 
diately. And how? God gave it to him. See with what 
emphasis and force of expression this is intimated : ' God had 
brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of 
the eunuchs.' Not only favour, but tender love — such love as 
that with which a father regards his son. Daniel knew that to 
please God was the best way to please Ashpenaz ; not that 
Ashpenaz cared about Daniel's pleasing God, but because God, 
being pleased with his purposes and desires to be true to Him, 
could, if it were needful, incline the heart of Ashpenaz favour- 


350 Twenty-fourth Week— First Day. 

ably towards him. Daniel was a diligent and thoughtful student 
of the holy books ; and he had no doubt read and pondered 
the text, * The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the 
rivers of water : He tumeth it whithersoever He will.' Prov. 
xxi. I. The whole career of Daniel evinces his deep convic- 
tion of this truth. He knew also another truth, although it had 
not then been written : * Who is he that will harm you, if ye be 
followers of that which is good ?' 

The ' tender love ' of Ashpenaz, which the Lord had thus 
bestowed upon his servant, was a very important acquisition. 
None could dare to treat harshly, few would venture even to 
flout at, one who stood so well with that formidable personage. 

But more than this was needed. Daniel was in a school — 
he was under a course of instruction, on his proficiency in which 
his future course of life, his honour, his station, and his useful- 
ness, were made to depend. No favour of the chief eunuch 
could carry him creditably through the laborious and exacting 
studies required, or bring him victoriously through that severe 
trial to which his attainments would in the end be subjected, 
along with many able competitors, and in the presence of the 
princes and sages of the realm. 

To learn the language of the Chaldeans, closely related as it 
was to the Hebrew, could be no difficult task to a youth of his 
abilities ; but to acquire proficiency in the unfamiliar learning 
and science for which the Babylonians were distinguished, was 
a sterner task. For a foreigner to acquit himself creditably in 
these studies, needed that he should 

' Scorn delights, and live laborions days ;' 

but to acquire positive distinction, and eclipse even the natives 
in their own line of study, required, the world would say, rare 
genius — shining and peculiar parts. Daniel and his Mends 
knew that it required something more. They knew what was 
wanted, and they knew where to seek it They needed aid 
from God, and He gave it freely to them. * As for these four 
children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning 
and wisdom.' By this means, still more than by the patronage 

The Learner^ s Aid. 351 

of Ashpenaz, they were enabled to commaiid the respect of 
their fellow-students; and when the time of trial came, envy 
was crashed, and detraction silenced, by the signal and glorious 
success of these four youths, who had trusted in God ; for then, 
'in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king 
inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the 
magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.' 

There seems to us something full of overlooked instruction 
in this. We count it reasonable to look to the Lord for our 
daily bread — to apply to Him for aid and guidance in the trials 
and emergencies of life. But how few are they who seek for 
the same aid from Him, and feel the same dependence upon 
Him, in matters of the intellect — ^in learning, in study, in 
thought ! But why not ? Is the nourishment and strengthoi- 
ing of the mind of less importance than that of the body ? Are 
mental labours, trials, and achievements of less consequence, 
or of less enduring effects upon ourselves and oUiers, than those 
of the body, or than the movements of outward conduct? 
The reverse is the truth. Then, has God limited himself to 
one class of operations for our benefit ; and is not rather his 
high encouragement and aid equally ready for all, and prefer- 
ably ready for the most important? It is veiy reasonable and 
becoming — it is very necessary — ^that when we go forth to the 
toil and business of the day, or when our afi^drs present per- 
plexing difficulties, we should cast ourselves upon the Lord's 
protection, and look to Him for counsel and guidance. But is 
it— can it be — less needful, that when we at down to read, to 
write, to study, to think, we should lift up our hearts trustingly 
to Him, and ciy — 

' What in me is dark 
Ulumine^ wliat is low, raise and sapport ?' 

God can and will do this for us ; and it would please Him well 
to be asked to do it. Let us believe that * to pray eamesdy, is 
to study well ;' and let us be sure that He will refiise us nothing 
that we seek, in singleness of heart, only for his service and his 
glory. How many difficulties that seem insuperable would be 
smoothed ! how many blessed thoughts would be suggested ! 

352 Twenty-fourth Week — Second Day. 

how many forgotten things brought to mind ! how many weari- 
nesses refreshed ! — if we trusted more to God, and less to our- 
selves, in the exercise of such gifts as He may have committed 
to us, and in the supply of such as we want. Take the instance 
of the acquisition of a language. What a weariness it is to 
many ! how bewildering are often the difficulties ! how exhaust- 
ing die tax upon the memory and judgment ! and how often 
are not. some tempted to lean hopelessly over the grammar 
and lexicon in sheer despair ! Is there no help ? Yes, there 
is prayer. Languages are now needful in sundry departments 
of God's service ; and is it to be believed that He who once 
bestowed the gift of tongues miraculously, to fit his servants for 
their work, has altogether ceased his aid ? Let him who has 
to supply by the labour of years the absence of that gift, believe 
that it is still in a great measure open to his eiamest prayer ; 
and that the Lord, whom he means to serve, is as able as He 
is willing to impart all the endowments that may be needfiil — 
not to supersede his labour, but to make his labour easy, and 
his burden light. 

%^%X(k%4smy^ SJIUjeh— Sw0nb gag, 


Daniel and his friends were but four out of many who entered 
the imperial palace of proud Babylon under the circumstances 
lately described. But they alone found their tender consciences 
harassed by a scruple respecting food, which met them at the 
outset. The youths thus introduced to the palace were pro- 
vided for from the royal kitchen, on a dietary defined by certain 
rules ordered or approved by the king. Now there were several 
grounds on which a conscientious Jew might regard himself as 
polluted by partaking of food so provided. In the first place, 
the dietary might, and probably did, comprise articles of food 
— such as the flesh of swine and hares — which the law interdicted 
to the Israelites. Or even if of lawful kinds, the law required 

Conscientious Scruples, 353 

the animals to be very perfectly cleared of blood : to which end 
the Jews killed their meat in a peculiar manner, and accounted 
it unlawful to eat of any that they did not know to have been 
in this way slaughtered.* And, yet further, it was customary 
among most ancient nations to make an oblation to their gods 
of some part of what they ate or drank, as a thankful acknow- 
ledgment that the good things they enjoyed were the gift of 
Heaven. This stood with them in the place which our grace 
before meat occupies ; but it was of the nature of a sacrifice — 
a thank-ofifering to those that were no gods, ascribing to them 
the honour due only to the one Lord of heaven and earth. 
Yet more, the heathen — as indeed also the Jews — used for food 
animals that had actually been ofifefed in sacrifice; and in 
eating meat presented to him by the heathen, a Jew could feel 
no certainty that he might not be partaking of that which had 
been offered to idols, and this would have been an abomination 
to him. It is clear, therefore, that there were grounds on which 
a conscientious Jew might well hesitate to partake of food thus 

Such was the case of the four Hebrew youths. It might 
have seemed to ordinary minds difficult to mark out the right 
course of action, or indeed to take any course, at the risk of 
exciting displeasure by what might be regarded as an offensive 
display of the specialities of Judaism ; and it must be unpleasant 
and ungracious to apprise those under whose protection cir- 
ctunstances have placed you, and whose favourable opinion 
may have much influence upon your future lot, that the food 
they provide for your support, and which is such as they them- 
selves use, is what you cannot eat, is what would defile you. 
It has the air of exclusiveness and self-righteous arrogance, 
which it would be painful to seem to manifest towards those 
entitled to consideration and respect. Consider a little. Sup- 
pose that a young Hindu of high caste were entrusted to your 
care ; and suppose that, when you pressed upon him the 
abundance of your table, he should tell you plainly that all 

^ This matter has been more fully explained in Morning Series, Thirty- 
second Week — ^Third Day. 


354 Twenty-fourth Week — Second Day. 

this was an abomination to him, would defile and ruin him ; 
and should forthwith go and dress f(jr himself a little rice in the 
open air in your court-yard. Just what you would be likely to 
feel in that case, at having your good cheer despised and 
counted abominable, is what the Babylonian officers would be 
likely to feel on becoming acquainted with the scruples of the 
young Hebrews. 

It was altogether a difficult matter, especially to persons so 
young, and therefore so sensitive to an)rthing like scorn or 
derision. In such a case, most persons would dislike to move 
in the matter at all, where it was so much their interest to please ; 
or would seek to effect their exemption by some evasion or 
circuitous process, in order to extenuate the oflfensiveness of 
such an intimation. In fact, we see that most of these youths 
either troubled themselves not about the matter, or shrunk from 
the odious difficulties of the task. 

But to Daniel, who took the lead in this matter, God had 
given more grace. He saw the necessity of action ; and then 
he saw that the strictest, plainest, and boldest mode of action 
was the safest and the best. He went at once to headquarters 
— to no less a personage than the chief of the eunuchs, Ash- 
penaz, on whom his beaming intelligence had already made a 
favourable impression. The manner in which this high func- 
tionary received the application, that these four youths might 
be allowed not ' to defile themselves with the king's meat,' is 
very observable. It was both kind and cautious. Between 
what it expressed and what it was understood to imply, it 
amounted to this : he would willingly grant the request ; but 
he was afraid to do so. The king had appointed the diet in 
question ; and if, through their dispensing with this generous 
fare, they lost their good looks, inquiry would be made ; and 
if the fact of his concurrence transpired, his head would be in 
great peril. He probably feared that it might lay his integrity 
under the suspicion of supplying the youths under his charge 
with inferior diet, in order that he might make a profit out of 
the difference. Daniel clearly understood that, although this 
great person declined to incur the responsibility of giving his 

Conscieniious Scruples. 355 

own sanction, he would wink at any arrangement they might 
make with any subordinate officer who might be willing to take 
the risk, and whose head was of less value than his own. So, 
understanding him, Daniel next applied to Melzar, the eunuch 
in whose immediate charge he and his friends were placed — by 
which it appears that, as in the Turkish seraglio, there was one 
eunuch for every three or four of these lads. Aware also now 
where the risk lay, Daniel shaped his application accordingly. 
He requested that they might be allowed to feed on pulse and 
water for ten days ; and that if they then looked nothing the 
worse, they should be permitted to continue this sober fare. 
Melzar consented, perhaps not uninfluenced by the benefit 
which accrued to himself from this arrangement* They had 
the good sense to propose, not the comparatively luxurious fare 
which might be still open to them as Jews, but that which was 
most simple, inexpensive, and easily prepared ; such, perhaps, 
as they had observed to be already largely provided for the in- 
ferior servants of the palace. 

The result was triumphant. When Melzar examined them 
at the end of the ten days, he saw that not only had they lost 
none of their former comeliness, but that ' their countenances 
appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than those of the children 
which did eat the portion of the king's meat* There are 
reasons in nature why this simple diet should be more favour- 
able to health and beauty than the dainties from which they 
abstained. Chardin remarks : * I have observed that the 
countenances of the Kechichs are in fact more rosy and smooth 
than those of the others ; and that the people who fast much — 
as the Armenians and the Greeks — are, notwithstanding, very 
beautiful, sparkling with health, and with a clean and lively 
countenance.' We cannot fail to see, however, that the Lord 
bestowed his blessing upon their sincere and faithful purpose, 
and secured their design from failure ; for it is not only stated 
that they were more handsome than the other lads, but that 
they had become more comely than they themselves had been 

356 Twenty 'fourth Week — Third Day. 

Cfay^entg-fcmrtl^ Mejefe— Slj^b gag. 


It is Stated, that when the time for the training and probation 
of the young Hebrews had passed, ' the king communed with 
them; and among them all was found none like Danid, 
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.' From this an old com- 
mentator^ deduces the doctrine, *that learning is necessary 
in kings / assuming that Nebuchadnezzar examined them him- 
self, from his own resources, and that, consequently, he was 
a man of learning. He says : * Nebuchadnezzar beeing a great 
warrior and conqueror, yet was himself so well seene in the 
knowledge of the Chaldeans, who were held to be the most 
learned in the world, that he was able to sift and examine 
these 4 men, whom he found in wisdome to goe beyond all his 
wisemen and soothsayers in Babylon. Such learned princes, 
among the people of God, were David, Solomon, Hezekiah, 
Josias ; among the heathen, Alexander the Great, Scipio Afri- 
canus, Julius Caesar, with others; and among the Christian 
emperors, Constantine the Great, who decided the contro- 
versies and questions among the Christian bishops. And this 
famous kingdome of England hath had most learned princes : 
Henerie the 8, Edward the 6, Queen Elizabeth of late blessed 
memorie, and our now soveraigne king James, who is able to 
conferre with any man in his faculty, as here Nebuchadnezzar 
doth with Daniel and the other three.' 

Now, without any disrespect to Nebuchadnezzar's learning, 
we apprehend that the commentator has mistaken the character 
of the transaction. The probability is, that a high court of 
learning was held, at which the king presided, and at which 
the nobles and sages of the land * assisted.' The presence of 
the latter is, indeed, implied in the fact, that the king found 
the four Hebrew youths * ten times better' than his magicians 
and astrologers. How could he know that, but by actual 
^ WiLLET : Hexapla in Danidenu London, i6io. 

The Examination. 35 7 

opportunities of comparison, which such a meeting afforded ? 
Hie sages probably proposed difficult questions, which the 
youths readily answered; and they in turn were allowed to 
put questions, which the sages could not answer. We suppose, 
also, that the youths were expected or allowed to propose and 
defend certain theses against each other. In our own exami- 
nations of students, the object is chiefly to ascertain whai they 
have learned. Oriental examinations applied less to this, than 
to ascertain how far that which had been learned had improved 
and quickened the capacity, so as to create a certain alertness 
of judgment and readiness of resource in enabling them to 
answer, off-hand, difficult and puzzling questions, having little 
direct connection with their studies, but which it was assumed 
that the general bent of their education ought to enable them 
to solve. 

In the first of the apocryphal books of Esdras,^ at the third 
chapter, there is a cmious story about a contest of theses 
between three Hebrew youths, in the palace of Darius, king 
of Persia. 

The king had made a great feast to his princes and gover- 
nors, and also to his household. Stimulated by the occasion, 
and emulous of honour, the three youths, who were of the 
king's body-guard, proposed among themselves that each should 
write a sentence, and deposit it sealed under the king's pillow, 
and that he whose sentence should be declared, * by the king 
and the three princes of Persia,' to be the wisest, should receive 
fi-om the royal hand ' great gifts and great things, in token of 
victory.* The coolness with which they proceed to assign the 
reward without consulting the king, who was to bestow it, is 
very entertaining. The writer was * to be clothed in purple, 
to drink in gold, and to sleep upon gold, and a chariot with 
bridles of gold, and a head-tire of fine linen, and a chain about 

1 This book is of unknown date, but is largely quoted by Josephus, and 
therefore existed before his time. The story we cite may be a fiction, but 
it is, at all events, founded on a knowledge of Eastern customs in this 
respect, and may, therefore, be quoted for illustration, as one might quote 
a historian or traveller. 

358 Twenty-fourth Week — Third Day. 

his 'neck ; and he shall sit next to Darius because of his wis- 
dom, and shall be called Darius his cousin.* 

When the papers were found, the king made even more of 
the matter than the ambitious youths expected. He summoned 
a high court of audience, and, being seated on his throne, 
called for the young men to vindicate their theses. 

One had written, ' Wine is the strongest ;^ and, in supporting 
it, he argued chiefly from the fact, that it brought down the 
strength of man, ' causing all men to err that drank it' It is 
a graphic picture of the various modes and changes of mind 
which wine produces. 

The second had written, * The king is the strongest ^ probably 
calculating that the courtliness of his proposition would make 
up for deficiency of argument. There is nothing very remark- 
able in what he said, except as to the truth of the picture gfiven 
of a despotic government. *And yet he is but one man,' 
whom all thus obey, even to destruction and to death. 

The third had somewhat unfairly fortified himself by two 
propositions ; * Women are strongest: but, above all things^ Truth 
beareth away the victory^ He spoke largely on both themes, 
and with a degree of boldness and freedom which may astonish 
those who are unacquainted with the oral licence allowed in 
eastern courts. As to women, he first proved very satisfac- 
torily, that if men rule everything else, women rule men, and 
are therefore virtually the stronger. Besides, all men's labours 
have home, and the woman reigning there, for their final object 
For her he labours, fights, robs, spoils, and even sins : * yea, 
many there be that have run out of their wits for women, and 
become servants for their sakes. Many also have perished, 
have erred, and sinned, for women.' He then ventured upon 
a hazardous illustration : There, before them, was the greatest 
of all the kings, whose strength had been so much extolled — 
he before whom the nations crouched in fear. Yet he, the 
orator, had seen a woman make a mere plaything of this mighty 
monarch. He had seen him sitting with his secondary wife, 
Apame, * daughter of the admirable Bartacus,' on his right 
hand ; and she had actually taken the crown off his head and 

The Lost Dream. 359 

put it on her own, and had even dared to smite his dreadful 
person with her left hand. And all the while the king ' gaped 
and gazed upon her with open mouth : if she laughed upon 
him, he laughed also ; but if she took any displeasure at him, 
the king was fain to flatter, that she might be reconciled to 
him again.' 

How the king might relish this illustration of the strength 
of woman from his own weakness, the speaker did not allow 
him time to consider ; for he at once struck up a higher and 
bolder strain in praise of Truth. * Wine is wicked,' he said ; 
* the king is wicked; women are wicked ; all the children of 
men are wicked. There is no truth in them, and in their 
unrighteousness they shall perish ; but as for Truth, it en- 
dureth, and is always strong; it liveth and conquereth for 
evermore.' And he closed with, * Blessed be the God of 
Truth ! ' 

He ceased; and, moved by the eloquent truths he had 
uttered, every tongue in that high audience found a voice, 
and cried, * Great is Truth, and mighty above all things !' 

Cfaientff-f0M:rt|^ M^jefe— Jf^nrtj^ gag. 


It is not unusual to have a dream of great significance and 
interest, but which yet passes from the mind when we awake. 
We remember how deeply it interested us, how nearly it 
seemed to concern us; but our utmost efforts are vainly 
exerted to retain the circumstances, so effectually do they 
elude our grasp. 

One night the great king Nebuchadnezzar had such a dream. 
He awoke in a state of horror and dismay, as one to whom 
something most solemn and threatening had happened; but 
he vainly strove to recover the circumstances which had left 
upon his mind an impression so deep. 

360 Twenty-fourth Week — Fourth Day. 

To us there would be no resource in such a case ; but the 
king of Babylon had one, which, as he judged, ought to be 
effectual His court was crowded with men of learning and 
science, which science embraced the pretension to a curious 
variety of occult knowledge, by which the adepts claimed to 
be able to uncover the secret things that were hidden from 
eyes less learned. No ancient people were so much devoted 
as the Babylonians to the pursuit of science. In attesting this 
fact, the testimony of history entirely agrees with that of the 
sacred books. From both sources, we learn that there were 
several classes of persons, who devoted themselves to the 
different branches of learning and curious arts; for, in the 
ancient East, and indeed in the modem East, what was really 
known of science was always connected with some kind of 
charlatanry or other; that is to say, the learned were not 
content with the credit of what they did know, but connected 
with it the pretension to some occult and peculiar knowledge 
beyond. Thus astronomy, which owes much to the Chaldeans, 
and of which they have indeed the credit of being the inventors, 
was intimately connected with astrology ; so that, in fact, the 
two formed but one science, of which the latter branch was 
deemed by far the more important. To it, indeed, the real 
science is little more than the handmaid. This is still the 
case in the East, and was so formerly with us. In the original 
record of the trial and conviction of Thomas Burdett, John 
Stacy, and Thomas Blake, in 1477, for constructive treason, 
the accusation is, that they imagined and compassed the death 
of the king and prince by calculating their nativities, ' to know 
when they should die,' and thus, *in order to carry their 
traitorous intention into effect, worked and calculated, by ar^ 
magic, necromancy, and astronomy^ the death and final destruc* 
tion of the king and prince.'^ 

In our text, the four classes of Babylonian adepts are de- 
scribed as 'the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sor- 
cerers, and the Chaldeans.' They professed to be able, by the 
different arts of their respective orders, to interpret dreams and 

^ AtheruEum^ May 15, 1 852. 

The Lost Dream. 36 1 

prodigies, and to foretell things to come. Of these four orders, 
the first is supposed by some, and the last by otheis, to have 
been the magi, in whom the occult science was connected 
with the priesdy character. This is the only one of these ordera 
which can be recognised in the Assyrian sculptures, from the 
peculiar dress of the functionary, and from the distinctive 
offices in which he is seen to be 
engaged, which show that he was 
certainly a priest, and therefore a 
magician or a diviner of one of 
the classes mentioned here ; for 
it is known that in other coun- 
tries, and eminently in this, the 
priests were also diviners. The 
priestly diviner, as represented in 
the sculptures, wears a peculiar 
dress, which, as it only otherwise 
appears on the persons of gods 
and deified persons, may be re 
gaided as sacerdotal. The garb 
is rich and picturesque, and com 
prehends a jewelled headband 
and bracelets. This personage i' _ 
usually represented with a gazelle 
upon his left arm, and a flower m his right hand, but the 
former is sometimes wanting. Taken altogether, the figure 
may give the reader a good idea of the class of persons so 
often mentioned in Daniel. 

The king having at his disposal the services of so many sorts 
of learned persons, who professed that nothing was hidden from 
their various arts, did not see reason to despair of recovenng 
his lost dieam. He sent for them, and required them to tell 
him his dream, and then to interpret it to him. At this they 
were confounded ; and they informed the king that they were 
quite ready to interpret any dream related to them, but to tell 
a dream, which the dreamer had himself forgotten, passed their 
power. The tyrant was wroth at this, and declared, that if 

362 Twenty-fourth Week — Fourth Day. 

they did not, they should be cut in pieces, and their houses 
made a dunghill; Of the former punishment we have spoken 
lately. It was known among the Jews; for 'Samuel hewed 
Agag in pieces.' But the latter, rendering the very abode of 
the culprit a memorial of abomination, occurs only in Baby- 
lonian and Persian decrees ;^ unless, indeed, we understand it 
to be implied in the treatment of the temple of Baal by Jehu 
and Jehonadab, when they * brake down the house of Baal, 
and made it a draught-house unto this day.' 2 Kings x. 27. 

On hearing this, the unhappy enchanters declared, with 
some heat, that there was no man upon the earth who could 
meet this requirement, nor was there ever any king that taxed 
to this extent the skill of his diviners. The king's reply shows 
that he began to doubt their pretended skill altogether, seeing 
that they vowed their incompetency in a matter by which that 
skill would be really tested. He remarked astutely, that if 
they told him the dream, he should then have proof that they 
were able to furnish the interpretation. Now there is much 
good sense in this, although we may be at the first view dis- 
posed to take part with the diviners, and to consider that they 
were harshly dealt with. But Nebuchadnezzar justly consi- 
dered their telling him the dream itself was such a test of 
their competency to furnish the interpretation afterwards, as it 
was not unreasonable, on their own principles, to require of 
them ; because the same divine power which could communi- 
cate to them the interpretation, as they professed, could also 
communicate to them the dream. 

The diviners, however, could only, in their despair, exclaim 

^ See the other instances in Ezra vi. 1 1, Dan. iii. 29. This custom, to 
the extent of destroying the house of the offender, also existed at Athens, 
in which city many spots, according to Xenophon, remained vacant, where 
the habitation had either been destroyed by fire, or erased by a decree of 
the people. ' No sooner was a citizen accused of high treason, or some 
such crime, than immediately his house was demolished, as a vessel is 
broken that has contained poisonous liquor. Neither was it lawful to 
rebuild there; for the very ground was supposed to become &tal and 
execrable, from the crimes of its former possessors.* — De Pauw, PhiiosO' 
^hical Dissertation on the Greeks^ i. 40. 

The Lost Dream. 363 

that none could declare what the king required, 'except the 
gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.' 

Daniel, although not present, was of a similar opinion. He, 
after his examination, had been advanced into the order of 
learned men ; and when the king decreed a general slaughter 
of that order, as he did in his wrath, the four Hebrew youths 
were about to share the common doom, when Daniel, confident 
that the Lord he served could impart this secret to him, im- 
plored a respite in the execution of the sentence. This was 
granted. Then they gave themselves unto prayer; and God 
heard them, and revealed the whole matter to Daniel in a 
night-vision. Indeed, as it was clearly meant by Him who 
gave the king his dream, that it should be interpreted to him, 
it cannot be questioned that the honour of the interpretation 
was reserved for Daniel, in order that he might be advanced 
to such a position as would enable him to protect and aid his 
exiled brethren, and that respect might be secured for the God 
they served. 

And here observe, that Daniel never attempts to make his 
life more pleasant, by suppressing the fact that he abhorred 
idolatry, and that the God he served was the only real and 
true God. On the contrary, he boldly and faithfully avows it 
on all occasions, in season and (as some would judge) out of 
season ; and there is nothing about which he manifests anxiety 
so sustained and constant, as that the Lord shall have all the 
honour of ail the great things He enables his servant to accom- 
plish. So, when the king asks him if he is able to make known 
the dream and its interpretation, he reminds him that there had 
been no power in the gods the diviners served to enable them 
to do this ; * but there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, 
and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall 
be in the latter days.' And throughout, he ascribes everything 
to this God whom he served — the dream itself, the interpreta- 
tion, the existence and power of the Babylonian empire in the 
person of the king before him, and all the historical develop- 
ments which the vision prefigured. This he succeeded in im- 
pressing with such force upon the king's mind, as at the close 

364 Twenty-fourth Week— Fifth Day. 

drew from him the memorable declaration : ^ Of a troth it is, 
that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings.' 

Considering that this God was, in the king's view, one of 
the many gods of nations he had conquered, this was much to 
bring his proud mind to, though it fell far short of the truth, 
that He was the only God, and that beside Him there was no 
god. But we have no evidence that this admission, wniog 
from him by the irresistible force of present conviction, made 
any abiding impression upon his mind or conduct. The lesson 
he had to learn was, therefore, to be more severely taught 

Meanwhile, Daniel was promoted to great and distinguished 
honours. Not only did he receive * great gifts j' not only was 
he promoted to the high office of Rab-mag, or chief of the 
learned order to which he belonged; but, to give him the 
strength in sustaining it, which, as a foreigner of adverse re- 
ligion, he so much needed, the civil government of the metro- 
politan province of Babylon was committed to him. Thus 
Daniel became, so to speak, both Lord Chancellor and Mini- 
ster of the Home Department ; and the union of the two offices 
in one person probably gave him a degree of power and influ- 
ence in the state, not inferior to that of the viziers and prime 
ministers of modem times. 

Daniel did not forget his friends in this his advancement 
They were, at his request, promoted to high employments in 
the department over which he presided. 

t;i0jenig-fatirt|^ Meth— Jfifi^r gag* 


King Nebuchadnezzar was what would be called a man of 
large ideas and vast undertakings. The great empire he had 
won and consolidated comprised many different nations, with 
different gods and different forms of religious service. Seeing 
that all these nations obeyed him as king, and were subject to 

The Fiery Furnace. 365 

his absolute sway ; it seeemed to him but reasonable that his 
god should share his triumph, and that, as there was but one 
civil, so there should be but one religious, obedience. He 
therefore determined to set up a vast golden image of his god 
in the plain of Dura, and that, at a signal given by bands of 
music, all the persons assembled together in the vast plain at 
the time of dedication, should fall down and worship this image. 
At the court of Babylon there were necessarily numbers of per- 
sons belonging to all the nations subject to the king's sceptre ; 
but, that the act might be complete, the governors of (he dif- 
ferent provinces of the empire were summoned to assist at the 

ceremony, and to represent the nations and provinces, the 
government of which they administered.' 

' These govemois, answering to the satraps of the andent Persian 
empire, and to the pashas of the modem Turkish empire, were mostly 
native princes of the provinces they governed, and therefore the more fit 
representatives of them on such an occauon. These provincial governors 
are represented in the Assyrian sculptures in the garbs of their diflerent 
nations, and are easily distinguished by their bearing the model of a dty as 

366 Twenty-fourth Week — Fifth Day. 

It must not be concealed that there have been various in- 
terpretations of Nebuchadnezzar's motives in setting up the 
image. It is, however, the general opinion, that the image 
itself was that of Bel or Belus ; in which case, seeing that this 
was already the god worshipped' in Chaldea, there seems no 
adequate reason for the stringent and penal enforcement of 
this worship, but on the ground we have assigned. A penalty 
— and that of death — ^must have been intended to constrain 
the worship of those who were not already votaries of the idol. 
For those who were, nothing of the kind could be needed. 
This view is now confirmed by the Assyrian inscriptions, to 
which we have already referred (p. 90), and which show that 
this people were very zealous in promoting the worship of 
Assarac among conquered nations. 

The image was of gold — ^hardly of solid gold, but hollow, or 
of wood covered with gold. The great size renders this suppo- 
sition necessary ; besides, that it was never the ancient custom 
to make any but small figures of solid gold. The image was 
no less than sixty cubits high, and six cubits broad — dimen- 
sions which must have rendered it visible to the most remote 
of the worshippers assembled in the great plain at the dedica- 
tion. This vast size is not without parallel, and has even been 
exceeded. The Colossus of Rhodes was seventy cubits high ; 
and the Colossus of Nero was not of inferior magnitude, being 
no feet high. These, however, were not of gold. It is ob- 
servable that the height is out of all proportion to the breadth; 
and as something like symmetry was usually observed in such 
cases, it is probable that the assigned height includes that of 
the pedestal on which the image stood. A statue six cubits 
broad could not well be more than thirty-six cubits high, if the 
ordinary rules of proportion in the human figure were followed. 
It is worthy of note, that this is not the only instance we 
possess of gigantic idols of gold among the Babylonians. 
Herodotus writes, that in his time there was at Babylon an idol 

a symbol of their office. Some bear two such models, one in each hand, 
and these may be supposed to be governors of two adjacent provinces, or 
of one province containing two important cities. 

The Fiery Furnace. 367 

image of gold twelve cubits high ; and, what is still more re- 
markable, another authority, obviously speaking of the same 
statue, mentions that every stranger was obliged to worship it 
before he was allowed to enter the city.^ 

The penalty upon those who failed to fall down and worship 
the image the king had set up, was that they should be cast 
into * a burning fiery furnace.' By this it would appear that 
death by burning alive was a very ancient punishment for 

* heresy.' It is the earliest instance, except one, of the inflic- 
tion of that punishment for any offence; and that instance 
also occurs among the Babylonians, showing that it was a cus- 
tomary punishment with them. Jeremiah, in denouncing the 
false prophets, Ahab and Zedekiah, predicted that they should 
be put to death by the king of Babylon : * And of them shall 
be taken up a curse by all the captivity of Judah which are in 
Babylon, saying, The Lord make thee like Zedekiah, and like 
Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in thefire^ ^ 

To this punishment the three friends of Daniel were con- 
demned, when Nebuchadnezzar was informed that they had 
disobeyed his mandate, by refusing to bow down in worship at 
the appointed signal. Indeed, the king was so enraged at their 
faithful testimony, and their avowed belief that the God they 
served was able to deliver, and would deliver them, even from 

* the burning fiery furnace,' that he caused the furnace to be 
heated * seven times more than it was wont to be heated,' — an 
intimation which alone shows that the punishment was not un- 
frequent, and that the furnace was that used for such executions. 

1 Philostratus, De Vita Apollon,, ch. 19. 

* Jer. xxix. 22. This custom, not long ago, subsisted in that repository 
of ancient usages — Persia. Sir John Chardin, describing the punishments 
used in that country, says : * There is still a particular way of putting to 
death those who have transgressed in civil affairs — as by causing a dearth, 
or by selling above the prescribed rate, by means of a false weight, or who 
have committed themselves in any other way. The cooks are put upon a 
spit, and roasted before a slow fire. During the dearth of 1668, I saw 
ovens heated in the royal square of Ispahan to terrify the bakers, and to 
deter them from deriving advantage from the general distress. So that, in 
fact, cooks were cooked, and bakers baked, on such occasions.' 

368 Twenty-fourth Week— Fifth Day. 

So fierce was the heat, that it actually destroyed the strong men 
employed to thrust the bound martjnrs into the fire. 

There was a dreadful pause, and every one looked with 
strained eyes, in the expectation that even a moment had 
sufficed to desfaroy every trace of the Hebrew youths in that 
sea of fire. The king looked, and lo ! he beheld them moving 
safely and unconcerned amid the flames, which had power only 
to bum their bonds, but not to singe their clothing, or to hurt 
a hair of their heads. And they were not alone. There was a 
fourth, whom the astonished king declared to be ^ like the Son 
of God.' This phrase has excited some curious questions. It 
is not likely that this heathen king could have had any notion 
of the Second Person in the Trinity ; but he had some notion 
of angels. It is probable that he meant that he saw one like 
a son of God, or of the gods (for the word is plural, as usual), 
meaning thereby an angel or celestial intelligence, such as we 
see depicted with wings in the Assyrian sculptures, and of 
which more than one representation has been given in this 
work. Indeed, he so explains it afterwards, when he glorifies 
God for having sent * his angel ' to deliver his servants. We 
may presume that it was an angel, sent from heaven to comfort 
them in their fiery trial, and to work the more thorough con- 
viction in the mind of the king. He was convinced, alarmed, 
remorsefiil. He went as near as he durst to the mouth of the 
fiimace, and desired the young men to come forth. They came; 
and the nobles who crowded around had ample opportunity of 
witnessing that the fire had no power over the faithful servants of 
Jehovah. Not only were they entirely unhurt, and their clothes 
unsinged, but even * the smell of fire had not passed upon them.' 

This had all the effect intended upon the king's mind. He 
was convinced that the God of these Hebrews was one not to 
be trifled with, or safely offended : and his conviction assured 
to the Jews future protection in the exercise of their religion ; 
for it drew from him a decree that * every people, nation, and 
language, which speak anything amiss against the God of 
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and 
their houses shall be made a dunghill.' 

The Fall of Pride. 369 


Nebuchadnezzar was, beyond doubt, one of the greatest and 
most illustrious princes that the world has ever seen; and 
the ages as they roll disclose new evidences, long hidden, of 
that eminence in power and magnificence which the Scripture 
ascribes to him. His misfortune was, that he was but too 
conscious of his own greatness ; and when he looked down 
upon the nations lying at his feet, and cast his eyes abroad 
upon the magnificence he had created around him, his heart 
was lifted up in kingly pride ; and, ascribing all that he had 
achieved to the strength of his own arm, and to the largeness 
of his own conceptions, he began to deem himself something 
more than mortal, — ^wholly forgetting the Power by whom kings 
reign, and who had made him what he was, and had given him 
all he owned. 

One day, as he * walked in the palace of his kingdom,' and 
viewed all around him the glories by which he had rendered 
the great city in which he reigned the wonder of the earth, he 
exclaimed, in a burst of imperial pride : ' Is not this great 
Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the 
might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?' While 
the word was still in his mouth, expressing the tiiought of his 
heart, there fell a voice firom heaven, pronouncing the terrible 
words : * The kingdom is departed firom thee : and they shall 
drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts 
of the field ; and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, 
and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that 
the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men^ and giveth it to 
whomsoever He wilV That very* hour this doom was fulfilled, 
— that very hour in which Nebuchadnezzar had deemed himself 
almost a god, beheld him far less than man. The mind of a 
man fled from him, and the mind of a beast entered. He 
fancied himself a beast of the field, and as such he cast off the 

VOL. VI. 2 A 

370 Twenty -fourth Week — Sixth Day. 

robes and refused the food and habitation of a man. He 
rushed forth into his park, and mingled with the cattle that fed 
there, living upon the herbs of the field, fleeing the face of man, 
and remaining exposed to the weather day and night, summer 
and winter, ' till his hair was grown like eagles' feathers, and 
his nails like birds' claws.' No doubt he was constantly 
watched at a distance, and his safety duly protected, while his 
son Evil-merodach assumed the regency until his father should 
be restored to his right mind. 

This did not occur until the time appointed — seven years — 
had passed ; and then — ^it is the king himself who relates the 
fects in a proclamation published on his recovery — * At the end 
of the days, I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven.' 
That first look to heaven, that mute appeal of the brute-man, 
was not in vain. ^ Mine understanding returned to me ;' and 
what was the first impulse and use of his restored understand- 
ing ? ^ I blessed the Most High, and praised and honoured 
Him that liveth for ever and ever.' God's victory over the 
proudest of men was complete. He proceeded to confess that 
before Him, ' all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as 
nothing : and He doeth according to his will in the aimy of 
heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth ; and none can 
stay his hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?* In this 
conviction he continued; for after his lords and counsellors, 
on perceiving the change that had taken place, repaired to 
him, and brought him back to his palace and his kingdom, he 
ends by extolling * the King of heaven, all whose works are 
truth, and his ways judgment : and those that walk in prides He 
is able to abased 

What had materially contributed in bringing the king to this 
frame of mind, was, without doubt, the fact that, in interpreting 
another dream for him, Daniel had foretold all this a year 
before it occurred — ^had solemnly warned him of the approach- 
ing judgment, and had boldly and faithfully counselled him to 
seek to avert the doom not yet sealed, by repentance and 
righteousness. The warning was in vain; but it bore fiiiit 
after the threatened punishment had been inflicted. 

Tlie Fall of Pride. 371 

We wish to add a few words respectiDg the nature of 
Nebuchadnezzar's claim, of which he so much vaunted, of 
being the builder of great Babylon, There was reason for it 
He was not indeed the founder of the city, for it existed from 
very ancient times ; but he improved it so greatly, adorned it 
with so many grand buildings, and rebuih parts of it so magni- 
ficently, that he brought it to a very different condition from 
that in which he found it. Josephus, following Berosus, ascribes 
to Nebuchadnezzar the adorning of the temple of Bel with the 
spoils he had taken in war ; the embellishments of the ancient 
city ; the triple wall of burnt brick surrounding it ; a new palace 
of extraordinary size and splendour ; stone terraces, which had 
the appearance of mountains, planted with various kinds of 
trees, and the celebrated hanging gardens of similar construc- 

tion, erected to gratify his Median consort, who was desirous 
of having, in this dead level, some scenery resembling that of 
her native country. Of the old city before his time, there are 
no ascertained remains ; nor, from the inferior materials of which 
it was formed, is it likely that such should be found. But 
Babylon, and the whole region, are full of his great name. 
This is quite a recent discovery, which we owe to Colonel 

It was a custom in Babylon, borrowed perhaps from the 
Assyrians, that the bricks used in building the ancient cities 
on the Lower Tigris and Euphrates should be stamped with 
the name and titles of the royal founder. This practice may 
eventually afford the key to important chronological disclosures; 

372 Twenty-fourth Week — Sixth Day. 

and Colonel Rawlinson expresses a hope that the bricks col- 
lected from different sites may enable him to reconstruct the 
chronology of the country. Now, the fact in point is, that 
every ruin in Babylon Proper, to some distance north of Bagh- 
dad, has its bricks stamped with the name of Nebuchadnezzar ; 
and Colonel Rawlinson states that he has examined the bricks 
in situ^ belonging perhaps to one hundred different towns, 
within this area of about one hundred miles in length, and 
thirty or forty in breadth, and that he has never found any 
other royal name than that of Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabo- 
polassar, king of Babylon. Many of these towns and others 
may, perhaps, be identified with those in the numerous list of 
towns built by Nebuchadnezzar, contained in an inscription 
now deposited in the India House. The extent and number 
of the works thus bearing the name of this great king, would 
almost pass belief on any evidence less conclusive; and cer- 
tainly the necessity of finding inhabitants for the numerous 
towns built by him in this region, supplies a new and interest- 
ing explanation for his zeal in sweeping the population of 
Judah, and doubtless of other conquered nations, into this 

One of the most important Baylonian relics brought to this 
country is a black stone with a long inscription, giving an account 
of the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar, the extent of his dominions, 
and the magnificence of his buildings. The inscription professes 
to be in the words of the monarch himself, and is most interesting 
as an illustration of the narrative given by DanieL I give an ex- 
tract from a translation : — 

' The great double wall of Babylon I finished. With two long 
embankments of brick and mortar I built the sides of its ditch. I 
joined it on with that which my father had made. I strengthened 
the city. Across the river to the west I built the walls of Babylon 
with brick. . . . Besides the Jugur-Bel, the impregnable fortifica- 
tion of Babylon, I constructed inside Babylon, on the eastern side 
of the river, a fortification such as no king had ever made before me, 
viz. a long rampart, 4000 ammas square, as an extra defence. I 
adorned its gates. The folding-doors and the pillars I plated with 
copper. Against presumptuous enemies, who were hostile to the 

Tlie Fall of Pride. 373 

men of Babylon, great waters, like the waters of the ocean, I made 
use of abundantly. The depths were like the depths of the vast 
ocean. I did not allow the waters to overflow, but the fulness of 
their floods I caused to flow on, restraining them with a brick 
embankment . . . Thus I completely made strong the defences 
of Babylon. May it last for ever ! 

* In Babylon — ^the city which is the delight of my eyes, and which 
I have glorified — ^when the waters were in flood, they inundated the 
foundations of the great palace called "The Wonder of Mankind" . . . 
I raised the mound of brick on which it was built, and made smooth 
its platform. I cut off the floods of the water, and the foundations 
I protected against the water with bricks and mortar ; and I finished 
it completely. Long beams I set up to support it, with pillars and 
beams plated with copper, and strengthened ; with iron I built up its 
gates.' ^ 

All this looks like a gjrand paraphrase of the exclamation re- 
corded by Daniel : * Is not this gjreat Babylon which I have built 
for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the 
honour of my majesty ?' 

Another portion of the same inscription is still more interesting, 
for it seems to refer to Nebuchadnezzar's strange and dreadful 
malady. This, at least, is the most natural explanation we can give 
to it ' Four years the seat of my kingdom in the city. . . . did not 
rejoice my heart In all my dominions I did not build a high place 
of power ; the precious treasures of my kingdom I did not lay up. 
In Babylon, buildings for myself and the honour of my kingdom I 
did not lay out In the worship of Merodach my lord, the joy of 
my heart, in Babylon, the city of his sovereignty and the seat of my 
empire, I did not sing his praises, and I did not furnish his altars. 
Nor did I clear out the canals,' etc. 

The cause of this suspension, at once of religious worship and of 
works of utility, is stated in the inscription with such obscurity as 
to be unintelligible. May it not refer to that remarkable visitation 
of divine judgment recorded by Daniel ? 

1 Rawlinson*s Herodotus, ii. 586. 

374 Twenty-fourtk Week — Seventh Day. 


It appears probable that Daniel did not retain, after the death 
of Nebuchadnezzar, the high offices to which he had been pro- 
moted. This inference is built chiefly on the £icty that when 
the queen-mother counselled king Belshazzar to call him to 
interpret the mysterious handwriting on the wall, she obviously 
speaks of him as one but little known to the king, and enters 
into a recital of his services under Nebuchadnezzar, and of 
the honours to which that monarch had advanced him. This 
would have been wholly unnecessary had Daniel still been in 
high employment at court. Besides, many long years had 
passed, and another reign had intervened, since that time; 
and it is rare for high state offices to be retained by the same 
man during a long series of years, and under successive reigns. 
Kings like to employ those who have been advanced by them- 
selves, and whose fortunes have been of their making. It may 
also be questioned whether the honour to which the prophet 
was promoted by Belshazzar for the interpretation of the hand- 
writing — that of being * third ruler in the kingdom' — ^would 
have been any material advancement to one who already pos- 
sessed the high offices bestowed by Nebuchadnezzar. 

The historical circumstances that followed the death of Bel- 
shazzar, and the prophet's connection with them, and the high 
favour he enjoyed under the Medo- Persian dynasty, have 
already engaged our attention in the Readings in Isaiah. The 
only remarkable incident recorded of him under the new 
d)aiasty was his being cast into the den of lions, and his 
deliverance therefrom, which drew from the king, Darius, the 
remarkable decree, * In every dominion of my kingdom men 
tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.' 

Some notice of this form of punishment has been lately 
taken (p. 236). It may be interesting to add, that although 
lions were found in Palestine in Old Testament times, the 

The Tomb of Daniel. 375 

region in which this occurred — ^that of the Lower Euphrates 
and the Tigris — ^is now the most westerly part of Asia in which 
lions remain. We, indeed, never saw one ourselves, but we 
have conversed with those who did; and we have seen the 
tracks of their feet; have been at the mouths of their dens, 
formed in the mounds of ancient ruins of the age of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, and strewed all around with the bones and portions of 
the hides of sheep, camels, and other animals ; and we have 
been present where their roars were heard. The following 
anecdote is interesting, from its having been related at Shush, 
the ancient Shusan of Daniel, which is supposed to have been 
the scene of his miraculous deliverance, and where his tomb is 
still shown. 

The Baron de Bode, in his Travels in Luristan and Arabistan, 
writes : 'An old man of our party recounted to us, in glowing 
terms, how he once fell into company with several lions in the 
very neighbourhood of Shush. It would be difficult to give an 
idea of the vehemence of gestiu'e and expression with which he 
accompanied his narrative ; but his story ran thus : — 

* " When a mere lad of eight or nine years old, I was sent," 
he said, " one day by my parents to scare birds from a planta- 
tion belonging to us, which lay close to the river. As I was 
sitting in a frail hut of rushes, I suddenly espied a lioness 
making her way towards my place of concealment My liver 
melted into water at the sight (jighe db shiid), and I became 
like one transfixed. The animal stopped short, then couched, 
and, rolling on the sand, appeared quite unconscious of the 
presence of an intruder. Although I trembled like a leaf, this 
afforded me some respite ; but presently I became aware of the 
approach of another Hon through the rushes, by the tremendous 
roaring which preceded him. They met, and apparently on 
very friendly terms; and for some time they gambolled like 
dogs together. But I felt my situation was not the better for 
it, as their stay might be prolonged. I was more dead than 
alive, expecting at every instant that they would discover me 
in my hiding-place ; and one stroke of the paw was more than 
sufficient to bring down the hut I was afraid to breathe, lest 

376 Twenty-fourth Week — Seventh Day. 

the sound should reach their ears ; yet I could not prevent my 
teeth from chattering quite audibly. But whether it was that 
they were too much occupied with their own concerns, or that 
they are deficient in scent, I do not know ; suffice it to say, 
that after a short time, which to me appeared an age, they 
separated, each taking a different direction, and were soon lost 
in the high grass. 

* " It is many years since that event took place," added the 
old man, in conclusion, "and still I never can think of it 
without a shudder." And, if I understood him right, the 
mental anxiety he underwent at the time had the effect of 
changing the colour of his hair into grey ever since. To me 
this narrative had a peculiar interest, as I was standing on the 
very spot which the traditions of the East point out as the scene 
where, twenty-five centuries ago, Daniel had his miraculous 
escape ; and I could not but contrast the calm confidence of 
the prophet with the agitated state of the Arab youth, who 
had not yet learned to place complete and implicit reliance on 
his heavenly Father.' 

The tradition which assigns Shusan as the locality of Daniel's 
death, and places his tomb there, is highly probable. The 
prophet expressly mentions that he was at tiiat place when he 
had one of his visions ; and we know that C3rrus established 
the custom for the court to spend the spring months in that 
city.^ There are, however, two places on the Lower Tigris 
that claim to be regarded as the ancient Susa: one is now 
called Shuster, and the other Shush. It is the latter that conr 
tains Daniel's tomb, and is now generally allowed to represent 
the ancient city. The ruins here are very extensive indeed, 
reaching twelve miles from one extremity to the other, and 
consisting, as all the ruined sites of this country do, simply of 
hillocks of earth and rubbish, covered with pieces of broken 
brick and coloured tiles. Some of the mounds are very large, 
assuming a kind of pyramidal shape, and doubtless mark the 
site of important public buildings, such as palaces and temples. 
At the foot of one of the largest of these mounds stands the 
^ Winter at Babylon, spring at Susa, summer at Ecbatana. 

The Tomb of Daniel. 377 

tomb of Daniel, as represented in the vignette title-page of this 
volume. It is of modem architecture, and has little to carry 
the mind back to remote ages, except the probability that it 
replaces the more ancient tomb which covered the mortal 
remains of this honoured servant of God. There are, indeed, 
some fragments of marble columns, with the leaves of the lotus 
carved on them, and which are probably of the same date 
as the ancient city. The white conical roof of the building, 
similar to the section of a honey-comb, is a remarkable object 
as seen rising among the trees. In the interior of a four- 
cornered chamber or cell stands the sarcophagus, which is, as 
usual in such tombs, a high box, of a dark sort of wood, sur- 
rounded by a railing. Hanging up against this grating are 
several boards, with Arabic quotations from the Koran, which 
the devout Moslems press to their lips as they pass around the 

Beneath the apartment that contains the tomb of the prophet 
is another vault, the entrance to which is from the outside of 
the court, and which is said to represent the den of lions into 
which Daniel was cast by order of king Darius. 

The tomb is in the charge of some dervishes, who subsist 
upon the alms of the pilgrims who resort to it. These der- 
vishes are the only fixed inhabitants of the city which once 
contained some of the proudest palaces ever reared by human 
hands. It is now, in fact, a wilderness, infested by lions, 
hyenas, and other beasts of prey. 


The prophet Hosea takes peculiar pleasure in describiog the 
church as espoused to her Lord, and in illustrating her cii- 
cumstances by analogies drawn from that condition. These 
analogies, as followed out in his second chapter, axe veiy full 
of matter, from which every one may draw instruction for his 
own soul. 

The Church has forsaken her Lord. She has wearied of 
the husband of her youth, and has forgotten the love of her 
espousals. She prefers other love to his, and is earnest in fol- 
lowing the roads that lead to her undoing. But He will not 
forget how dear she has been to Him. His divine love stUl, 
therefore, watches over her for good, and labours to work in 
her those convictions, however sorrowfully gained, wiiich shall 
bring her back to himself. 

But how ? 

He makes the paths of error difficult to her feet, and the 
objects of her pursuit unsatisfying to her soul. * I will hedge 
up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find 
her paths.* She finds every path that leads from Him, or that 
does not lead to Him, 

* Puzzled with mazes and perplexed with errors.' 

She who had once known the fulness of his love, and sat so 
long under his shadow with great delight, can find no real joy 
in the pleasures in which He takes no part. In the heart from 
which He has been driven, a vacancy remains, which the whole 
world, with all its pomps, its lusts, its prides, is not large enough 
to fill. 

She is free. She has cast off the restraint of her marriage 


The Spiritual Marriage. 3 79 

vows. Yet in this new freedom she does not, in the conscious- 
ness of liberty, 

' Leap exulting like the bounding roe,' 

along those paths of new delight, which had before seemed so 
enchanting to her view. No: in great amazement she finds 
that the remembrance of her first love is still a spell upon her. 
Its holy joys, its peace that passed all show — where are they? 
what has she gained comparable to them ? Nothing : and she 
knows this now. Footsore, weary, disgusted, disappointed, 
repentant, she cries at last : * I will go and return to my first 
husband, for then was it better with me than now.' 

But can she thus return ? 

Not of herself. She feels that the voice which has called her 
back so long, and which passed her like the tmregarded wind, 
must be heard now : 

* Return, O wanderer, return, return ; 
Let me not always waste my words in vain, 
As I have done too long.' 

That word now has brought her to a pause, and any further 
progress along those paths of ruin has become impossible to 
her. She has been allowed to learn in the ways of her own 
choosing, the misery of alienation from Him — ^the wretchedness 
of being where He is not. It is enough that her Lord, who has 
never forsaken her, lays his hand upon her haste, and, by the 
constrainings of a love that passes knowledge, brings her to a 
pause. She cannot go on. Can she go back ? She has been 
enabled to form the wish to return to the home she has for- 
saken. But she has wandered far, and lost the homeward road. 
The way also is long, or it seems so to one who has so deviously 
wandered ; and she has no strength left. Besides, will her 
offended Lord receive one who has been so unfaithfiil to Him? 
Has He not cast her off for ever ? Will He not spurn her 
from the door so long unfrequented by her feet ? Alas for her ! 
She cannot return unless He give her strength — unless He 
guide her on the way — ^unless He assure her heart of welcome 

380 Twenty-fifth Week — First Day. 

when she comes. All this she has. She hears his voice once 
more : 

* Return and welcome : if thou wilt, thou shalt : 
Although thou canst not of thyself, yet I 
That call, can make thee able.' 

Yet not altogether at once may she be reinstated in the 
privileges of home. She has made herself unfit for that holy 
and happy place. Her heart has much to unlearn, and much 
to learn. Therefore first will He ' allure her into the wilder- 
ness ;' and there, apart with Him, when she has been properly 
humbled and cast down, and has been brought to see more 
clearly her forlorn estate, and to know how deeply she has 
sinned. He will 'speak to her heart* ^ He will tell her that 
her sins are forgiven. He will let her know that He has 
loved her with an everlasting love, and that, therefore, with 
loving-kindness has He drawn her back to himself. He will 
enrich her, and strengthen her heart with exceeding great and 
precious promises. And then will He joyfully throw open to 
her * the door of hope,' and bring her back into his vineyard. 
And then once more shall she * sing there as in the days of 
her youth :' not merely shall she sing the childlike songs her 
mother taught her — ^not merely the glad songs of her first 
espousals — ^but the deeper and more solemn strains of one 
who has sinned, and been forgiven and purified ; such songs 
as those which mark the joy there is in heaven over one 
sinner that repenteth. Indeed, the songs and the joys are 
those of a second espousal — ^more grave, as well as more glad, 
than the first. For, among the words which her Lord had 
* spoken to her heart,* in the wilderness to which He lured her, 
were these : * I will betroth thee unto me for ever. Yea, I 
will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, 
and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth 
thee irnto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord.' 

Rosea was, in the order of time, among the first of that noble 

^ This is the literal translation of the words rendered, ' speak comfortably 
unto her* — averse 14. 

Tlie Black Obelisk. 381 

band of prophets whose writings are preserved in the Bible. He 
followed close upon Elisha, Not more than forty years intervened 
between the death of the one and the call of the other. Hosea be- 
gan to prophesy while Jeroboam li. reigned over Israel, and Uzziah 
over Judah ; consequently not later than B.C. 783, and probably not 
much earlier. His prophetic mission closed before the fourth year 
of the reign of Hezekiah, B.C. 721. For more than sixty years, 
therefore, did Hosea conduct his divine mission. He was con- 
temporary with Isaiah, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, and 
Obadiah. His mission was to Israel ; and he prophesied during the 
darkest period of that kingdom's history. * Corruption had spread 
throughout the whole land ; even the places once sacred through 
God*s revelations or other mercies to their forefathers — Bethel, 
Gilgal, Gilead, Mizpeh, Shechem — were especial scenes of corrup- 
tion or of sin. Every holy memory was effaced by present corrup- 
tion. Could things be worse ? There was one aggravation more. 
Remonstrance was useless ; the knowledge of God was wilfully re- 
jected ; the people hated rebuke ; the more they were called, the 
more they refused ; they forbade their prophets to prophesy ; and 
their false prophets hated God greatly. All attempts to heal all 
this disease only showed its incurableness.'^ 

This sad state of affairs created the subjects and moulded the 
tone of Hosea's prophetic utterances. The whole book is one long 
dirge. He mourns over while he describes the crimes of the people ; 
and in language of startling power he pronounces judgment upon 
the guilty. * I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel ;' 
* I will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease ;' * They 
shall be wanderers among the nations.' Hosea is emphatically a 
prophet of woe. 


The prophet Hosea lived and prophesied during the period 
in which the kingdom of the ten tribes was oppressed and 
menaced by the Assyrians; and it appears to be chiefly to 
these circumstances, and to the ultimate destiny of the king- 

1 PusEY on Hosea, Introduction^ p. 3, 


382 Twenty 'fifth Week — Second Day. 

dom of these tribes, to be brought into captivity and extinction 
by that great nation, that his prophecies bear reference. 

Assyria was to Israel what Babylon was to Judah— the 
appointed destroyer. But the greater part of the prophets 
living later than Israel's captivity, and being chiefly concerned 
with the condition and destiny of the kingdom of Judah, and 
Assyria being already overthrown, and the Babylonian empire 
established, it is only in two or three of the minor prophets, 
and in the earlier prophecies of Isaiah, that we look for direct 
information respecting the Assyrians. The three prophets, 
Hosea, Amos, and Jonah, lived when the Assyrian empire 
was in its most flourishing estate ; when that power was well 
known in S)nia and Palestine, and when the kingdom of Israel 
felt deeply the weight of its imperial arm. 

Considering the repeated invasions of this realm by the 
Assyrians, and the successive deportations of the inhabitants, 
till the land was at length swept clean as with the besom of 
destruction, the question naturally arises, whether a people so 
fond as the Ass)nrians of commemorating, in sculpture, the 
military expeditions and triumphs of their kings, have left no 
memorial of their repeated invasions and final subjugation of 
this realm. It cannot be said that it was too unimportant for 
such record ; for the inscriptions state, with much ptarticulaiity, 
the triumphs of the kings over nations so obscure that their 
very names are forgotten. There is hence no reason to doubt 
that the Israelites are represented in the sculptiures at Nineveh, 
though it may, until lately, have seemed a matter of question 
whether they were represented in any of the sculptures that 
have yet been found, and which are probably few in number 
compared with those that remain to be disentombed. 

A discovery of great interest has, however, been lately made, 
which points in this direction. 

There are perhaps few of the Nineveh antiquities which have 
attracted more attention than the Nimrud obelisk. This monu- 
ment, which is six feet six inches high, is of a species of black 
marble. Each side is charged with four compartments of rude 
sculpture, underneath which are lines of inscription in the 

The Black Obelisk. 383 

wedge-shaped character, doubtless descriptive of the sculp- 
tures. These clearly represent the presentation of tribute to 
the Assyrian king by two different nations. One of these two 
nations, there is strong groilnd to suppose, are Israelites of 
the kingdom of Samaria, from the resemblance of the persons 
to those of the only figures in the mural sculptures of Nineveh 
that have been conjectured to be Israelites of Samaria, and 
from the like resemblance to figures in the sculptures of Egypt. 
We have caused the compartments which represent this people 
to be collected firom each of the surfaces of the obelisk. The 
supposed Israelites of the ten tribes are clad in vestures similar 
m general character to those which the Egyptian sculptures 
ascribe to the nations inhabiting S)aia — the distinguishing 
characteristic in this case being a kind of cap or bonnet, 
looking uncommonly like a night-cap, or, to use a more 
classical comparison, like a Phrygian bonnet with the peak 
leaning backward instead of forward.* The king stands, 
closely attended by two eunuchs, one the umbrella-bearer, and 
the other the cupbearer with his fly-flap. Prostrate before the 
king in homage is the king, chief, or ambassador of the subject 
nation which has sent these tributes. Other eunuchs then in- 
troduce the tribute-bearers, who, as usual in such cases, make 
much display of their respective burdens, and are preceded 
by a man of their nation whose hands are not occupied by any 
burden, but are lifted up as if in salutation or reverence. This 
is, we presume, the native ofiicer in immediate charge of the 
Of what these tributes consist, it is not, in some instances, 

* These caps seem to us to form the only stumbling-block in the way of 
this identification. We lately stated the probability that the Hebrews did 
not ordinarily wear head-coverings. This conclusion was feirly deduced, 
and we are not disposed to abandon it. If Colonel Rawlinson is eventually 
found to be right in his interpretation, we might suppose that the subjects 
of the kingdom of Samaria had, by this time, adopted the cap of their nor- 
thern neighbours in Lebanon ; or, it may be, that he has applied the inscrip- 
tion to the wrong people, as represented on the obelisk, for that remarkable 
monument presents sdso another people with their heads uncovered, and 
their hair confined by a simple fillet aroimd their heads. 

384 Twenty-fifth Week — Second Day. 

easy to say; but, so far as can be ascertained, they are such 
articles as might have been brought from Palestine — being 

baskets containing fruits, bars of metal or wood, leathern 
bottles, jars, and baskets, containing probably money, oil, and 

The Black Obelisk, 385 

honey ; and we also seem to perceive robes or rich clothes, 
folded up, upon the shoulders of some of the bearers. 

Now, it will be borne in mind, as an undoubted historical 
fact, that the Israelites did render tribute to the Assyrians a 
good while before their final overthrow. It is stated that the 
last king of Israel, Hoshea, became servant to Shalmaneser king 
of Assyria, * and gave him presents,' that is, tribute ; and that 
the subsequent withholding of this tribute led to the final in- 
vasion and ruin of the land by the Assyrians. The probability 
is, however, that the kings reigning in Samaria had rendered 
tribute long before Hoshea, and it is mentioned in his case 
merely from the circumstances to which its withdrawal led. 
The Assyrians had invaded and conquered the part of the 
kingdom beyond the Jordan as early as the reign of Jehu ; and 
in subsequent reigns they cut the realm short in its northern 
provinces. Considering the vast power of Assyria, it is little 
likely that its king allowed this small and reduced state to 
retain even the shadow of independence, but on conditions of 
tribute, disguised or not under the name of * presents.' 

Conformably to these considerations is the remarkable fact, 
that Colonel Rawlinson has been enabled to read the name of 
Jehu in the inscriptions of this obelisk ; and he thus discovers 
that * the tribute in the second compartment of the obelisk [the 
first of ours] comes from Israel ; it is the tribute of Jehu.* On 
this hint we have taken the second compartment, and con- 
nected with it all the other compartments in which the figures 
are distinguished by the same dress and peculiar cap as the 
kneeling prince or ambassador, assuming that they form to- 
gether the complete representation of the subject. 

Colonel Rawlinson confesses that he might distrust his own 
conclusion, were it unsupported. But he has also found the 
name of Hazael, king of Syria, the contemporary of Jehu, and 
of Ithobaal, king of Sidon, who was also a contemporary, being 
the father of Jezebel the wife of Ahab. He adds ; * These 
three identifications constitute a synchronism on which, I 
think, we may rely, especially as all the collateral evidence 
comes out satisfactorily. The tributes noted in the obelisk are 

VOL. VI. 2 B 

386 Twenty-fifth Week — Third Day. 

all from the remote nations of the west; and what can be 
more natural than that the tribute from Israel should thus be 
put next to the tribute from Egypt? There was no Assyrian 
campaign at this period against Egypt or Israel ;' but the kii^ 
sent offerings in order to keep on good terms with their eastern 


More than half the short prophecy of Joel contains a wonder- 
fully fine and vigorous description of a flight of locusts, and 
the devastation they occasion. There is not in all literature a 
description of any like subject comparable to this ; and % in 
our happy exemption from such visitations, we have been in- 
capable of appreciating the serious nature of a calamity occa- 
sioned by mere insects, we have only to listen to the solemn 
tones in which the prophet speaks of it as a national judgment, 
calling for acts of public mourning and humiliation, to be satis- 
fied that the visitation from locusts is among the most awful 
dispensations which a land can sustain. 

The present is indeed the standard Scripture passage on the 
subject ; and we therefore give this evening to it, although it 
has already, in a slight measure, engaged our attention.' To 
illustrate this, one of the noblest passages of Hebrew poetiy, 
adequately, in all the details which it offers, would require 
scarcely less than half of one of our volumes. We may, there- 
fore, be content to produce a few remarks in explanation of 
some of the more notable points, chiefly to show the minute 
accuracy of the expressions employed by the prophet 

In one place,* he says that the locust's * teeth are the teetb 
of a lion, and he hath the cheek-teeth of a great lion.' La- 
borde says, that * this comparison is just, regard being had to 
the proportions of the two creatures.' It is especially just with 

^ A mistake, as we have just shown. 

2 Moming Scries, Fifteenth Week— Sixth Day. « Jod L 6w 

Loctists. 387 

respect to the strength of the bite of the locust, or, as one may 
say, to the power of its jaws, which is doubtless what the pro- 
phet means by * the cheek.' No one can witness the nature, 
extent, and rapidity of its devastations without being aware of 

Again, he compares the locusts to horses,^ a comparison also 
used in the Apocalypse.* Commentators explain this by refer- 
ence to the head of the insect, which is fancied to bear con- 
siderable resemblance to that of a horse. An active imagina- 
tion may make out some faint resemblance, especially to the 
skeleton of a horse's head, but it is not a very obvious likeness, 
and would hardly occur to any one spontaneously in examining 
a locust One ingenious naturalist, however, finds that a locust, 
covered entirely with its closed wings, with the exception of 
the legs, ^e head, and the belly, offers a complete resemblance 
to an Arab horse with the long covering called hiran. An 
analogous comparison of the locust to a horse is cited by Nie- 
buhr as in use among the Persians and Arabians. He heard, 
indeed, from an Arab at Basrah, a particular comparison of the 
locust with other animals, but which did not much arrest his 
attention till he heard it repeated at Baghdad, when he remem- 
bered the comparison in the Apocalypse. This man compared 
the head of the locust to that of a horse, the breast to that of 
a lion, the legs to those of a camel, the belly to that of a ser- 
pent, the tail to that of a scorpion, and the feelers (if the 
traveller caught the meaning rightly) to the hair of a virgin. 
The Spaniards have a similarly detailed comparison, derived 
doubtless from the Arabs. As given in a Spanish book, it 
stands thus: 'What animal is that which resembles many 
others ? — the locust, which has the horns of an antelope, the 
eyes of a cow,^ the face of a horse, the legs of a hawk, the 
neck of a serpent, and the wings of a dove.' This does not 
prove much, however, as it is the genius of those people to 
find analogies of this nature inscrutable to any but themselves. 

' Joel ii. 4. ^ Rev. ix. 7. 

3 Not a ridiculous comparison to those who remember the ' ox-eyed Juno* 
01 Homer. 

388 Twenty-fifth Week — Third Day. 

Besides, it may be no more than the scriptural expression 
adopted into the Koran, and passing thence into the common 
discourse and ideas of the people, as is frequent in many other 
instances. It seems more probable that the comparison really 
refers, not to anything in the head or form of the creature, but 
to its impetuous course, resembling the gallop of a horse. Any 
one who has witnessed the progress of a locust (or, in default 
of that, a grasshopper, which is of the same genu5) upon the 
ground by successive leaps, will apprehend the force of this 
comparison. And it is avowedly with reference to this analog)' 
that the Germans call the grasshopper a grasshorse (heupferdi), 
and the Italians a little horse (cavalettd). In fact, the motion 
has more resemblance to the gallop of the horse than to any 
animal motion known to the ancients, though we find a stronger 
resemblance to the movements of the kangaroo, a creature 
formerly unknown. In fact, this comparison has often ocaured 
to ourselves in witnessing the ground movements of locusts. 
In proportion to size, however, the bound of the locust is very 
much longer than that of the horse Eclipse, or of the kangaroo ; 
and its amazing force we had occasion to measure by the strong 
and startling bounce with which, in their leaps, they would 
sometimes come against one's face when it happened to inter- 
cept them. 

The prophet * specially notices the devastation of the vines 
and fruit-trees by the locusts; though it afterwards appeared 
that all the products of the field, and even of the open pas- 
tures, were also consumed. It was observed, in the great in- 
vasion of Germany by locusts in the last century,' that these 
destructive creatures devoured the wheat, the barley, the oats, 
the artichokes, the leaves of trees and shrubs, but spared the 
vines. In the East, on the contrary, if they arrive at the time 

» Joel i. 7. 

2 The locusts have, at distant intervals, found their way farther west than 
is usually supposed. Germany was visited by flights of locusts in the years 
844, 852, 872, 873, 1544, 1733 to 1739, 1813, 1819; England in 1613, 
1748; Spain in 1597, 1686, 1754, 1757; Portugal in 1602, 1755, i757' 
Italy in 591, 872, 1478, 1536, 1656, 1748. Many other visitations of 
locusts are also recorded to have occurred in different parts of Europe. 

Locusts. 389 

the com is in the blade, they make this their first repast ; but 
if it does not suffice for them, or if the corn has grown to hard- 
ness, they repair to the fruit-trees, the vines, the fig-trees, the 
mulberry-trees, the palms, and speedily despoil them of all 
their leaves, leaving them as forlorn and bare as in winter. 
The palm-tree, is, however, an evergreen, and the aspect which 
it presents when stript of its leaves by the locusts is singular 
and striking — the tree being never seen naturally in that con- 
dition. The prophet mentioned that, in the awful visitation he 
described, the locusts had * barked the fig-trees ;' and it is a 
fact that, impelled by the eagerness of their devouring hunger, 
they sometimes, with their saw-like teeth, strip off the bark of 
the young trees which they have chosen for their pasture. 
Shaw reports the ravages committed upon the vines, of Algiers 
by the locusts in 1724. Anna Comnena relates, that in the- 
time of the Emperor Alexius the locusts ravaged the fig-trees, 
but spared the corn. Dr. E. D. Clarke states that the fields, 
the pastures, and the gardens in the environs of Kertsch, in 
Crimea, were reduced to a complete desert by the locusts 
before his eyes. In fact, one would think that the land they 
have quitted had been swept bare by a fiery wind ; and never 
was the effect of their ravages more forcibly described than in 
the words of the prophet: *A fire devoureth before them, 
and behind them a flame bumeth : the land is as the garden of 
Eden befare tkeniy and behind them a desolate wilderness ; yea, 
and nothing shall escape them.' 

The prophet repeatedly alludes to the gloom and darkness 
occasioned by the arrival of the locusts. In fact, they fly so 
closely, and in so dense masses, that the sun is obscured, and 
the light is reduced to that of the sun under eclipse — which is 
a more striking contrast to the ordinary bright, brisk, brilliant 
daylight of the East, than to the daylight of our own climate, 
where an eclipse of the sun might often pass without observa- 
tion. We remember, when sitting writing on a summer after- 
noon at Baghdad, to have been startled by a sudden obscura- 
tion, reducing the light to that of a cloudy or foggy day in our 
own country. This could not be accounted for from any 

390 Twenty-fifth Week— Fourth Day. 

obvious cause under the always cloudless sky of Chaldea, and 
we rushed out to see what was the matter, the first impression 
being that there was an eclipse of the sun. It proved to be a 
vast and dense cloud of locusts passing over the city, which it 
covered like a pall. The flight was low ; and the air seemed 
filled with them, as with us in a heavy fell of snow. Indeed, 
there is nothing that will give a better idea to the English 
reader than this of the appearance presented and the motion 
observed. Only that in this case the movement was horizontal, 
and the flakes (formed by the body of the locusts) being opaque, 
seemed black between the spectator and the sun. In many 
parts the cloud of locusts was quite black by its thickness, 
which allowed not the rays of the sun to pass through ; but in 
other parts, especially towards the outer margin, the mass was 
less dense, and allowed the light to penetrate. It seemed like 
a vast army marching onward under the direction of a leader, 
which was perhaps the fact It was nearly an hour before the 
whole had passed — which may give some idea of their immense 
numbers, and of the ruin they must cause wherever they alight 
The noise made by the motion of so many small wings was 
like that caused by the rushing of a mighty wind. The pro- 
phet quite as aptly (chap. ii. 5, 6) compares it to ' the noise 
of chariots upon the tops of the mountains,' and ' the noise of 
a flame of fire.' The flight of locusts we mention did not 
alight, but passed on, whether on account of the awful da- 
motu: made by the people, with shouts, aided by the beating of 
drums and kettles, to deter them from alighting, we know not 
Many stragglers, however, alighted on the house-tops, and 
aflbrded to us the first opportunity of making the observations 
embodied in these remarks. 


Ajcos was the earliest of the prophets after Jonah. He lived 
in the latter portion of the reign of Jeroboam ii., king of 

The Peasant Prophet. 39 1 

Isrady in the early part of which Jonah seems to have 
flourished. He was not, however, like Jonah, a subject of 
that kingdom; for he was a native of Tekoa, in Judah, a 
place about six miles south of Bethlehem. His prophetic 
mission chiefly bore reference to the northern kingdom ; and 
in fidfilment of it he went thither, and in the presence of the 
golden-calf altar at Bethel, denounced the iniquities of Israel, 
and declared its impending doom. This gave much annoy- 
ance to Amaziah, the priest at Bethel, who complained to the 
king, declaring that * the land is not able to bear all his words.' 
Whether Jeroboam acted on this complaint, we are not told ; 
but we learn that Amaziah himself advised the prophet to go 
back to his own country, and prophesy there. The answer of 
Amos is interesting, from the information which it aflbrds 
respecting his condition of life : * I was no prophet, neither 
was I a prophet's son ; but I was an herdman, and^a gatherer 
of sycamore fruit : and the Lord took me as I followed the 
flock, and the Lord said unto me. Go, prophesy unto my 
people Israel.' What resulted from this controversy does not 
appear ; but the prophet who gave such an answer, declaring 
that he acted under the Lord's command, and who had with 
such unflinching boldness discharged his mission, was not 
likely to withdraw, if he felt that any work remained for him 
to do. The tradition concerning him, indeed, is, that he re- 
mained, and was subjected to much ill-treatment from Amaziah, 
whose son at length forced a nail into his temple ; whereupon 
his friends came and removed him, still alive, to his native 
place, where he soon died, and was buried in the sepulchre 
of his fathers. 

It appears, from his own account, that Amos was a peasant ; 
and the information is interesting, from the light it throws 
upon his frequent allusions to rural affairs, his strong sympathy 
with the sufferings and oppression of the poor, and his keen 
sense of the luxurious habits of the great, as contrasted with 
that condition of life with which he was most familiar. The 
principal of the former set of texts may receive our particular 

392 Twenty-fifth Week — Fourth Day. 

His regular employment was that of a shepherd ; but as he 
had skill in the delicate operation required at one time of the 
year by the sycamore fig-tree, this became his occasional em- 
ployment In strictness he was not a * gatherer,' but a * dresser 
of sycamore fruit.' The sycamore fig-tree is abundant in Pales- 
tine, and is the * sycamore ' so often mentioned in Scripture. It 
is a large tree, with a leaf like that of the mulberry-tree, and 
fruit like a fig ; and firom this combination it takes its name. 
The fi-uit has the figure and smell of real figs, but is scarcely 
equal to them in taste, having a sort of sweetness which does 
not recommend it to European palates, though relished by the 
natives of the countries in which it grows, and to whom it 
forms an important article of subsistence. Naturally, it has a 
bitterness which would render it uneatable even to an Oriental ; 
and it is to deprive it of this quality, by enabling the fiiiit 
to ripen sufficiently to subdue it, that the operation becomes 
necessary, which formed one of the employments of Amos. It 
was believed that the tree would not bear fruit at all, unless 
the bark were wounded at the time of budding, to allow the 
exudation of a milky fluid ; and that the fruit produced would 
retain its bitterness, unless slightly scarified with an iron cumb 
as it approached to ripeness. These two operations, or one of 
them, doubtless formed the * dressing of the sycamore fruit.' 

In one place Amos has an emphatic allusion to the frail 
booth-like structures which formed *the habitations of the 
shepherds;*^ and immediately after he speaks of ^threshing 
instruments of iron,*' the mention of which by him, and with 
more particularity some time after by Isaiah,' may suggest that 
threshing instruments had been then but lately introduced, 
and naturally attracted much attention in a country in which 
threshing by the treading of cattle only had been previously 
in use. 

In another place occurs the unique and singularly agricul- 
tural comparison, * I am pressed under you as a cart is pressed 
that is fiill of sheaves.'* This language shows that carts were 
used by the Israelites for the removal of agricultural produce; 

1 Amos i. 2. 2 Amos i. 3. 3 Isa. xxviii. 27, xli. 15. * Amos iL 13. 

The Peasant Propliet. 393 

and it is a curious circumstance, that this is the only purpose 
for which carts are to this day employed in Western Asia, and 
that very sparingly. The carts now in use are probably just 
such as the Israelites had — rudely constructed, with lumbering 
solid wheels, and invariably drawn by oxen. 

Some explanation is needed of the passage (Amos iii. 1 2) in 
which a shepherd, who has had a sheep taken from his flock 
by a lion, and does not hope to rescue it alive, or even to 
recover the carcass entire, is represented as still anxious, even 
at the risk of his life, to obtain some fragment, if it be but the 
legs or a piece of an ear, from the ravenous beast. The reason 
for this may be found by comparing Genesis xxxi. 39 with 
Exodus xxii. 13, from which it appears, that when a flock 
was entrusted to the care of a shepherd, or other person, he 
was expected to make good to the owner the loss of any sheep 
or goat * torn of beasts,' unless he could produce the carcass, 
or some portion of it, in evidence of the fact, and to assure the 
master that his servant had not improperly disposed of it for 
his own benefit. The same custom subsists throughout Asia, 
varied by slight modifications in different countries. It is even 
extended to camels and to horses. In Persia, for instance, 
many of the king's horses are given out into the keeping and 
custody of certain persons. If one of them dies, the man who 
has charge of it cuts out the piece of skin that bears the royal 
mark, with a portion of the flesh adhering thereto, and takes 
it to the proper officer, who thereupon erases the horse from 
the royal register. The man, moreover, is sworn as to the fact 
that the animal died a natural death, and not from any want 
of care. And it is said that the experienced officers of the 
king's stable can tell from the state of the piece of flesh, after 
it has been steeped some time in water, whether the horse died 

394 Twenty-fifth Week — Fourth Day. 

of hunger, hard work, or violence. The mention of 'the ear' 
may direct our thoughts to the long pendulous ears of one 
species of Syrian goat, which is in fact still die domestic 
species in that country. Even a piece of one of these remaric- 
able ears might very well serve as evidence of what bad 
befallen the animal — evidence all the more proper from its 
being so portable, and so much more easily preserved from 
corruption than more fleshy parts. 

In one place Amos refers to the diseases and disastn^ 
of plants;* in another, to peculiar dangers from lions, and 
bears, and the bites of serpents ;* in another he marks, with 
true agricultural precision, the time of a visitation of locusts: 
*In the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth ;' and, 
as if this indication were not precise enough, he adds, ' It was 
the latter growth after the king's mowings." 

In the last chapter,* there is a series of allusions to field- 
labour. Many more may be found ; and, taken tt^ether, there 
is quite enough in the book of Amos to suggest to the experi- 
enced reader this prophet's state of life, even had we not his 
own intimation that he was ' a herdman and a gatherer of 

Tekoa was a small and poor village, situated on the eastern brow 

of the mountain ridge, overlooking, and partly surrounded by, the 

wilderness of Judsa. It is five miles south of Bethlehem ; and 

ab6ut half way between Jerusalem and Hebron, to the east of the 

Amos iv. 9. 2 Amos v. 19, * Amos vii. I. * Amos 11. 13. 

Tlie Great Fish. 395 

msdn road. The surrounding country is wild and bare, fit only for 
pastoral purposes, and well adapted for the training of a hardy race 
of shepherds. One of David's mighty men was ^ Ira, the son of 
Ikkesh, the Tekoite.' The style and imagery of Amos' writings 
exhibit many traces of his early training and habits, and of the 
wild scenery amid which he had been accustomed to feed his flock 
and gather wild figs. His allusions to a cart laden with sheaves, 
skill in the use of the bow, swiftness of foot, the roaring of a lion in 
the forest when it has no prey, the shepherd rending a piece of torn 
lamb from the lion's mouth, horses running over rocky ground, etc., 
are all characteristic of that * wilderness of Tekoa,' in which he 
passed his youth. His language is simple and lucid, but wanting 
in that sublimity of thought and expression which characterizes, in 
a greater or less degree, most of the other prophets. The book of 
Amos is a pastoral prophecy. It is the production of one who says 
of himself, * I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son ; but I 
was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit' He had not 
been trained in the schools of the prophets. He was not known 
among the literati of Israel. But the Lord called him, and gave 
him a prophetic mission ; and he went, and in the simple, graphic, 
and forcible language of pastoral life, he proclaimed divine truth, 
and pronounced divine warnings and judgments. 

Amos hved among the earliest group of prophets, during the time 
when Uzziah and Jeroboam II. were contemporaries, ue, B.C. 809 - 
783. Though of the tribe of Judah, his special commission was to 
Israel. He pronounced judgments also on Damascus, Philistia, 
Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, because of the enmity they had 
shown to Israel 

S^fomtg-Mj^ M^-efe— Jfiftj^ gag, 


Jonah is the earliest of the prophets whose books compose the 
volume of prophecy. In 2 Kings xiv. 25-27 there is mention 
of a prophecy by him, respecting the recovery of certain terri- 
tory belonging to the kingdom of Israel from the S)aians ; and 
as this was fulfilled in the time of king Jeroboam 11., Jonah 
must have exercised his prophetic office not later than the early 


96 Twenty -fifth Week — Fifth Day. 

part of that king's reign, and probably in that of his father 
Joash. It will thus appear that the comn^encement of his 
ministry approached nearly to the close of that of Elisha. It 
therefore seems that, during the early part of Jonah's life, he 
and Elisha were contemporaries ; and it is quite possible that 
the former may have been one of the ' sons (or pupils) of the 
prophets,' so often mentioned in the history of the latter. 

We have lately shown, that at this time the Ass}Tians had 
made their power felt in Israel, and that certain relations sub- 
sisted between them and the Israelites, which must have made 
them well known to each other. Indeed, if Colonel Rawlin- 
son's interpretation of the black obelisk be correct, figures of 
the Israelites, and inscriptions recording their gifts of homage, 
already existed among the sculptures of Nineveh, which * great 
city ' was assuredly well known to most of them from report, 
and to many of them personally, from visits paid on political 
or commercial business. 

It was not, therefore, from unacquaintance with the people, 
or from the idea of visiting a remote foreign city being strange 
to him, that Jonah received with dismay the command to re- 
pair to Nineveh and proclaim its approaching destruction ; but 
it may be that he feared peril to himself from delivering a 
message like this in the great metropolis of a proud and power- 
ful people. He did not remonstrate ; but, being a man appa- 
rently of a dogged and refractory temper, he determined in his 
own mind not to execute the conunand he had received. He 
left the country, indeed ; but, instead of proceeding eastward, 
he hurried down to Joppa, and took his passage in the first 
ship that was to sail, in order to flee across the western sea- 
Flee from what ? Avowedly, * from the presence of the Lord.* 
That he could entertain so gross a conception of the Lord, 
whose servant he was, affords most lamentable evidence of the 
lowered notions of the divine character and attributes which 
were entertained by the best instructed minds, in the presence 
of the corrupted religion and maimed observances of the 
northern kingdom. He was, however, doomed to learn some- 
thing more of God than he had known before. That God sent 

The Great Fish. 397 

after the ship a tremendous storm; and the danger was so 
imminent that, after doing all in their power to retain the 
mastery of the vessel, the sailors concluded, with a supersti- 
tion still common among seafaring men, that they were pur- 
sued by an angry God, on account of some guilty person in 
the ship. Him they resolved to detect by lot; and when 
the lot fell upon Jonah, he confessed that he believed the 
storm to be sent upon them on his account, by the God from 
whose face he fled ; and he advised them to rid the ship of 
him, by casting him into the sea. Although this had been 
their object in casting lots, the honest sailors were still un- 
willing to act upon it, and made one great effort more to bring 
the ship to land ; but, finding all they could do unavailing, 
they cast the prophet into the sea, which immediately ceased 
its raging. But the runaway prophet was not to be drowned. 
The Lord, who had prepared the storm, prepared also a great 
fish to swallow him — not to destroy him, but to afford him 
refuge from the water, and to give him a passage to the shore 
from which he had embarked. Jonah remained three days 
and nights in the stomach of the fish, until he had, in that 
strange and comfortless position, been brought to a better 
state of mind ; and then, but not before, the Lord impelled 
the fish to cast him up upon the sea-shore. 

Now, we must not conceal that this circumstance of the fish 
has been treated with much scorn and some derision by un- 
believers ; and even believers have sometimes endeavoured to 
avoid the difficulty by supposing the prophet was picked up by 
some ship that had a fish for its sign. 

But where is the difficulty ? Let us see. 

The whale has not a swallow large enough for a man to pass 
through. Well, but the text does not say that the fish was a 
whale, but * a great fish ;' and although a whale is mentioned 
in the reference to this passage which our Saviour makes in 
Matt. xii. 40, this name, especially when collated with the 
original narrative, is to be understood not as designating any 
one fish in particular, but as a common name for all the larger 
inhabitants of the deep. Until, therefore, it shall be proved 

398 Twenty-fifth Week— Fifth Day. 

that there is no great fish capable of swallowing a man entire, 
the objection is equally puerile and unsound. Besides, as it 
strikes us, it has been too hastily assumed, from the dimensions 
of a fish's throat in a state of collapse when dead, what it can 
or cannot swallow. The living throat is doubtless capable of 
much expansion. Indeed, we are certain this is the case ; for 
we have often seen taken from the bellies of large fish, other 
fish entire, and so large that no one unacquainted with the &ct, 
and seeing them apart, would be ready to believe that the 
latter had been swallowed by the former. Since the days of 
Bochart, it has generally been supposed that ^ the great fish * 
may have been some species of shark \ and it is known that 
entire human bodies have been found in some fishes of this 

Under this explanation, the objection that there have never 
been any whales in the Mediterranean, loses its' force. But the 
alleged fact is, after all, not true. There is evidence of whales 
being sometimes found in the Mediterranean, though certainly 
far more rarely than in the ocean. At the veiy place fix>m 
which Jonah sailed — ^Joppa, now Jaffa — ^there were displayed 
for many ages, in one of its pagan temples, the huge bones of 
a species of whale, which the local legends pretended to be 
those of the sea-monster which, at that place, was slain by 
Perseus for the deliverance of Andromeda. An eminent 
naturalist gives other instances : * Procopius mentions a huge 
sea-monster in the Propontis, taken during his praefectnie 
of Constantinople, in the thirty-sixth year of Justinian (ajd. 
562), after having destroyed vessels, at certain intervals^ for 
more than fifty years. Rondoletius enumerates several whales 
stranded or taken on the coasts of the Mediterranean. ... In 
the Syrian seas, the Belgian pilgrim Lavaers, on his passage 
from Malta to Palestine, incidentally mentions a " Tonynvisch," 
which he further denominates an '^ oil fish," longer than the 
vessel, leisurely swimming along, and which, the seamen said, 
prognosticated bad weather. On the island of Zerbi, dose to 
the African coast, the late Commander Davies, R.N., found 
the bones of a cachalot whale on the beach. Shaw mentions 

The Great Fish. 399 

an orca more than sixty feet long, stranded at Algiers ; and the 
late Admiral Ross Donelly saw one in the Mediterranean, near 
the island of Albaran. There are, besides, numerous sharks 
of the largest species in the seas of the Levant, and also in the 
Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, as well as cetacea, and two 
species of halicore or dugongy which are herbivorous animals, 
intermediate between whales and seals.' ^ After this, and after 
what we have stated as to the swallow of fishes, Jonah's fish 
might possibly be a whale, if any one wishes thus to limit the 
signification of the word employed. In that case, it may not 
have been necessary for the fish to swallow the prophet at all ; 
for in the mouth of the common whale there is a cavity afford- 
ing sufficient space, in which he might have been retained with 
less discomfort to himself than in the stomach of any fish. 

Another objection — ^that a man could not live in the stomach 
of a fish — ^is answered by the fact, that the animal stomach has 
no power upon living substances ; and one who received no 
injury firom the fish before being swallowed, would remain 
alive for a considerable time, unless suffocated in so uncon- 
genial a situation and element. Indeed, suffocation in any 
case was the real danger ; and to meet this, there is a sufficient 
answer in the fact, that the Lord prepared the fish, and pro- 
vided such a fish as was suited to the purpose in view. It was 
the Lord's doing, and evidently miraculous. If one disbelieves 
miracles altogether, it is useless to contend with him about this 
one ; but if he does believe in any miracles, he will see nothing 
too hard for the Lord in all this ; and he will not suppose it 
more difficult for Him to preserve Jonah from suffocation in 
the mouth or stomach of a fish, than to preserve the three 
Hebrew youths firom harm * in the midst of the burning fiery 

' Colonel C. Hamilton Smith : Art. Wiiale, in Cyclopadia of Biblical 

400 Twenty-fifth Week — Sixth Day. 

®tentg-M|^ Wkt\—^^\ gag* 


The command to Jonah to proceed to Nineveh and proclaim 
its doom, was soon renewed, and he no longer sought to shun 
the duty thus imposed. 

He reached Nineveh, which,"* we are told, was * an exceeding 
great city of three days' journey.* This may be reckoned at 
about sixty miles. And that it must be understood of the 
circumference and not of the length, is clear, not only from the 
coincidences of the statements of ancient writers with modem 
discoveries, but from the necessities of the case, and the in- 
ferences deducible from the assigned population. Those who, 
from this text, talk of the city as sixty miles long, cannot really 
have formed a practical idea of such a city. London, whose 
vast extent astonishes the world, and which contains a popula- 
tion twice or thrice that of Nineveh, cannot be reckoned as 
more than eight miles in length. If a population of not more 
tlian one-third or one-half that of London, or even equal to it, 
were expanded over a surface equal to eight times that of 
London, it would cease to be a city for any of the purposes of 
a concentrated community, but would be a country sparsely 
dotted with human habitations. Even to give it a circumference 
of sixty miles, with an area twice the extent of London, for 
certainly not more, and probably much less, than half the 
population, needs an explanation as to the loose mode in 
which ancient oriental, cities were constructed. But it will be 
urged that Jonah went *a day's journey into the city' delivering 
the message entiiisted to him. This is, indeed, the principal 
argument for understanding the previous passage to refer to the 
diameter. But it seems to us to prove just the reverse. If the 
city were in length three days' journey, why should he go only 
one day's journey into it delivering the denunciations entrusted 
to him, leaving two-thirds of the city unvisited ? The meaning 
clearly is, that he began to give his declaration as be entered 

Nineveh. 401 

the city, and continued to deliver it through the entire day's 
journey which it took him to traverse its whole extent. In fact, 
the two statements coincide with and support each other ; for 
a city three days' journey in circumference will be about one 
day's journey in diameter. Diodorus, the principal ancient 
authority, moreover, gives to the circumference a measurement 
which, reduced from stadia (480), makes just sixty miles ; and 
Dr. Layard and Mr. Bonomi, though they differ in drawing the 
boundary line, bring the result to the same circumference. 

The population, which forms an element in this calculation, 
is stated in the book before us to comprise ^more than six 
score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right 
hand and their left hand.' Some think that the latter phrase 
denotes a condition of spiritual ignorance, and expresses the 
entire population. But as a population not much exceeding 
120,000 persons would be inordinately out of proportion to 
the most limited extent that can be assigned to the city, we 
take the phrase to indicate young children, as is, indeed, com- 
monly understood. These are usually one-fifth of the entire 
population of any place ; so that this would make the popu- 
lation of Nineveh about 600,000, not more than one-third that 
of London ; while the area of Nineveh being twice as great, 
the population of the British metropolis is six times more dense 
than was that of the Assyrian capital This needs some ex- 
planation. A learned German writer^ furnishes some valuable 
ideas with regard to the origination oi such cities as Nineveh 
and Babylon. He shows that the great cities of Asia were con- 
stituted in a manner quite different from those of Europe. 
They generally grew out of the settlements c^ nomade con- 
querors, who fixed their abode in a subjugated country, and 
changed their old mode of life for one more settled and peace- 
ful. The encampment of a chieftain near the walls of some 
already existing capital, was speedily converted into a new city, 
which eclipsed the splendour of the old one. The vanquished 
people were employed in its erection. The plan of the camp, 
which it followed in every particular, ensured its symmetry, and 

^ Heeren, Historical Researches^ ii. 150. 

VOL. VI. 2 C 

402 Twenty-fifth Week — Sixth Day. 

enables us to account for its square form, and the straight lines 
in which its streets extended and intersected each other at 
right angles, as well as for their great extent and loose construc- 
tion. The extent of these cities affords but little guidance to 
the European in estimating their population. The compact 
close streets of Europe, and especially of the walled towns on 
the Continent, form a striking contrast to the scattered man- 
sions of the East, surrounded with their extensive courts and 
gardens, occupying a very large proportion of the whole area. 
An equal space, therefore, was far from containing the same 
number of men as in the cities of Europe. 

How far this applies to Nineveh we can judge from the 
statements already made with regard to its extent as compared 
^vith its population, and still more from what we know histori- 
cally respecting Babylon, which was of nearly the same extent 
as Nineveh, and was doubtless laid out on the same general 
plan. Of this city Quintus Curtius states, that * the buildings 
do not reach to the walls, but are at the distance of an acre 
(Jugerum) from them. Neither is the whole city covered with 
houses, but only ninety furlongs {stadia); nor do the houses 
stand in rows by each other, but the intervals which separate 
them are sown and cultivated, that they may furnish subsist- 
ence in case of siege.' This was the more important, as in the 
absence, in these regions, of any other defences than such as 
the great cities supplied, it was usual for the inhabitants of the 
open country, for a considerable distance round, to abandon 
their several towns and villages, and flock into the metropolis 
on the approach of an enemy ; and this was a contingency 
that needed a special provision, from the frequency of its 
occurrence in these ancient states, with whom war was the 
great business of life, and peace the rare exception. 

There were also pasture grounds in such cities for the sub- 
sistence of cattle in case of siege. In prospect of a long siege, 
we should probably slay our cattle and salt them down, from 
the inability to provide pasture for them, and to save the con- 
sumption which their keep involves. This is a resource not 
thought of by the Orientals formerly or now, as they do not 

Jonah in Nineveh, 403 

use salted meats. Their only resource was to keep the animals 
alive till they were wanted for food ; and this was effected by 
providing pasture for them within the walls, necessitating a 
large appropriation of space unoccupied by buildings. 

The probability also is, that the majority of the houses of 
Nineveh, like those of many eastern cities of the present day, 
consisted but of one story, spread therefore over a large extent 
of ground. We have always observed the Orientals to be ex- 
ceedingly averse to ascending stairs ; and where ground is no 
object, as it seldom is, they consider it absurd to build habita- 
tions in which they must be continually going up stairs and 
down, when they are at liberty to spread out their dwellings 
over the ground as \videly as they like. Hence the accommo- 
dation which we secure by piling story upon story, they think 
they realize with much more advantage by placing these 
stories separately upon the ground, connecting them by doors, 
galleries, courts, and passages. This is their idea of com- 
fort ; and we must confess to being considerably of their 
opinion. The result is, however, that the house of an eastern 
gentleman in a town, will generally occupy four or five times as 
much ground as that of an Englishman in the corresponding 
condition of life. 

Cto^ntg-fiflj^ M^tk— Sjeijjenfj^ gag- 


Tt is now with the firm step and steady aspect of one who 
knows that the burden of the Lord is upon him, that Jonah 
enters the gates of Nineveh the Great. He may still have 
doubts and fears as to the result ; but he fears God more, and 
wavers not in his purpose to discharge faithfully the mission 
entrusted to him. He believed that the Lord who sent him 
could give strength and power to his own words ; and he had 
cause to know that his arm was strong to deliver him from all 

404 Twenty-fifth Week — Seventh Day. 

evil that might befall. * Still he must have been the subject of 
strange and conflicting emotions, when he entered the gates of 
that proud capital. The stem soldiers upon the battlements, 
armed with swords and shields, helmets and spears ; the colossal 
images of *winged compound animals that guarded the gates ; 
the gorgeous chariots and horsemen that rattled and bounded 
through the streets ; the pomp and state of the royal palaces; the 
signs of trade and commerce, of wealth and luxury, of pleasure 
and wickedness, on every hand — ^must have amazed and per- 
plexed the prophet, conscious of his utter loneliness amidst a 
mighty population, of his despicable poverty amidst abounding 
riches, of his rough and foreign aspect amidst a proud and 
poHshed community. There was enough to shake his faith, 
and to cowardize his bold, haughty, and scornful spirit ; yet he 
dared not a second time abandon his mission. He therefore 
passed along the broad ways and great places of concourse, 
crying in solemn tones, " Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be 
overthrown." ' ^ 

Who and what is he ? the people ask. Is it a madman who 
thus speaks, or a mocker, who delights to scatter *■ firebrands, 
arrows, and death?' His intelligent and sober aspect forbids 
the supposition : he bears himself as a man deeply in earnest, 
and alive to the awful importance of the work he has in hand ; 
and the very oneness of the message he delivers — ^that he has 
just this solitary message to proclaim, seems to betoken all the 
more an assured conviction of the truth and certainty of it. 
The busy crowd is by and by arrested ; a solemn awe steals 
over the minds of the people ; they press around the preacher 
to know who and whence he is, and why he utters such an 
ominous cry in their streets ; and hfearing, as they now do, 
that, so far from lightly denouncing this doom against them, he 
had already, at the hazard of his life, shrunk from executing 
the charge committed to him, that he had been cast out for his 
wilful reluctance into the mighty deep, and miraculously re- 
stored, only that he might be sent forth anew to utter the cry 
they now heard of approaching destruction, — learning all this 
1 Rev. J. Blackburn, Nineveh^ its Rise and Fall, London, 185a 

Jonah in Nineveh. 405 

concerning Jonah and his burden, how solemn and perilous 
must their situation have appeared in their eyes ! Though 
personally a stranger to them, this man's fortunes, it seems, had 
yet been most intimately bound up with theirs : he has under- 
gone wonderful and unheard-of things on their account.* 

What other concurrent circumstances there may have been 
to impress their minds with the conviction that they stood on 
the verge of ruin, or whether the word of God simply, in its 
own divine energy, as delivered by the prophet, wrought upon 
their souls, certain it is that they evinced no disposition to 
treat the message with scorn, or the messenger with insult, 
but were deeply moved to alarm and grief. 

This commotion in the city speedily reached the ears of the 
king; and it cannot be doubted that he soon sent to have 
the strange prophet brought before him. 

It is plain, from the sculptures, that the king of Assyria 
was approached, like all oriental princes, with such tokens 
of profound reverence as, in fact, amounted to something 
like religious adoration. *• Seated on his throne of state, his 
eunuchs, ministers, and other great officers stood around him ; 
while those who were brought before him, forgetting the erect 
dignity of human nature, prostrated themselves, in the most 
abject manner, at his feet. Imagine Jonah introduced into 
the royal palace, and you will see that the scene and circum- 
stances must have sorely tried his &ith and sted&stness. As 
he passed along the lengthened corridors towards the hall of 
audience, he must have been struck with the air of uncommon 
splendour that surrounded him. On the walls he beheld the 
sculptured figures of priests and eunuchs, of kings, heroes, 
and ministers of state, of genii and idol gods, of battles and 
hunting scenes, all elaborately and gorgeously coloured ; while 
there stood at the angles of the passages colossal statues of 
strange winged, compound creatures, like the guardian spirits 
of the place.' 2 

A sight so strange to him — such abounding evidence of the 

1 Rev. P. P'airbairn's Jonah, Edinburgh, 1849. 

2 Blackburn's Nineveh, 

4o6 Tweiity-fifth Week Seventh Day, 

wealth, the power, and the idolatry of the monarch into whose 
presence he was about to enter — might well have moved even 
the stem spirit of the prophet. But he now stood there in- 
vested with a greatness not his own, and far exceeding all the 
grandeur around him ; and he flinched not to declare unto 
the greatest king then upon earth, the whole counsel of God 
against this proud Nineveh. As the monarch heard the word 
of doom, God smote his heart with alarm and repentance. 
The common feeling became his ; and he sanctioned and 
ordained its solemn public expression by acts of general 
mourning and humiliation. He came down from the throne 
before which a score of kings bent their knees ; he laid all his 
glorious imperial robes aside, and, investing his person with 
sackcloth, sat down among the ashes. Nor he alone ; for a 
decree went forth, ordaining fasting and sackcloth for man 
and beast, and urging every one to turn from his evil way and 
from the violence of his hands. The prophet had not called 
them to repentance, but had warned them of impending doom. 
This, they still trusted, might not be irrevocable, and they 
ventured to seize hold of a hope which the prophet had not 
extended to them : * Who can tell if God will turn and repent, 
and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?' 
Blessed was that thought of theirs. The Lord, abundant in 
mercy, had inspired them, at that time, with a conception of 
Him which his prophet had not taught. It was not yet too 
late. All was not yet lost. God beheld their acts ; He saw 
that they turned from their evil ways ; and then * God repented 
of the evil that He had said that He would do unto them, 
and He did it not.' 

It seems a remarkable circumstance, that the Ninevites 
should have extended the acts of fasting and humiliation to 
their cattle. We find nothing of this among the Hebrews ; 
but it was a custom among the ancient heathen nations to 
withhold food from their cattle, as well as from themselves, 
in times of mourning and humiliation, and in some instances 
they cut off the hair of their beasts, as well as their own. 
The animals which were, in this instance, covered with sack- 

Jonah in Nineikh. 


cloth, were doubtless horses, mules, asses, and camels, which 
were divested of their usual caparisons and ornaments, and 
invested with sackcloth for the occasion — a custom having 
some analogy to that of our clothing with black the horses 
employed in funereal solemnities. 

^kttd^-milg Meek— Jfirst gag* 


That his preaching had been instrumental in saving a great 
city from destruction ; that so many persons, men, women, 
and children, had been spared from death, — this must, of 
course, have been highly gratifying to Jonah. 

It was not. * It displeased him exceedingly.' 

That the Lord had laid so much honour upon him, and had 
allowed mercy to prevail over judgment, must have been a 
matter of great joy to him, and of much thankfulness to God. 

No. * He was very angry.' 

Lord, what is man ? 

One cannot love this Jonah, or think well of him. We 
seem unable to recognise in him those signs of grace which 
we expect to see adorning the commissioned servants of God. 
The Lord, however, does not choose unfit instruments for 
his work ; though He does often work by instruments which 
seem to man most unfit. It may be recollected that we do 
not know all Jonah's character, but only some parts of it 
excited under rare and extraordinary influences. Yet it must 
be confessed there is such a pervading homogeneity in a// the 
traits which appear in his history, as to suggest that we see in 
them his real and natural character — a character, no -doubt, 
solidly good, and open to conviction, but habitually irascible 
and morose, and apt, under exciting circumstances, to view 
things in their worst and most gloomy aspects. 

The present state of his mind is a fearful sight. There is 
no reason to doubt — indeed, it is all but avowed — that he 
would much rather that this great city, with its people, should 
perish, than that they should repent and be spared. There 
are two grounds for this state of feeling: first, his Jewish hatred 


The Gourd. 409 

against the Assyrians as idolaters and the oppressors of his 
country; and, next, his fear that he should seem a felse 
prophet, if his dehunciations were not accomplished. Indeed, 
he declares that his knowledge, that the Lord was 'very 
merciful,' and would probably forgive them if they repented, 
lay at the root of his original reluctance to undertake the office 
which had been forced upon him ; and he declares that he 
would far rather yield up his own life than see his character 
as a prophet thus compromised. So morbid had his state of 
feeling become, that he would not bring himself to believe 
that the city could be spared, after he had, in the Lord's name, 
pronounced its doom. He therefore posted himself on an 
advantageous station in the environs — ^near enough for obser- 
vation, but distant enough for safety — and resolved to remain 
there till the time had elapsed within which he had declared 
the city should be destroyed. 

Here the Lord, being merciful unto him, purposed to give 
him a lesson, salutary to him, and fitted to impress his wilful 
but not hardened mind. 

He had made a booth, and rested under its shade. * He sat 
in his booth for a while, enjoying as much comfort as a sullen 
and discontented man, who was dissatisfied with the divine 
dispensations, and scarcely satisfied with himself, could be sup- 
posed to enjoy. But his comfort diminished as the foliage 
with which he had constructed this green booth began to 
wither; and in such a climate, where the fierce heat would 
speedily extract the moisture and shrivel the leaves, it would 
soon become insufficient to afford him protection against the 
rays of the sun; and thus his external circumstances would 
become as uncomfortable as was his state of mind.'^ The 
Lord then 'prepared a gourd' to come up over Jonah, * that it 
might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief.' 

' Practical Expositiott of the Bookofyonah. By the Rev. James Peddie, 
D.D. Edinburgh: Oliphant and Sons, 1842. The book of Jonah seems 
a favourite object of study in Scotland. Our citations indicate three 
excellent books illustrative of it, which have, within these few years, been 
published in Edinburgh. 

410 Twenty-sixth Week — First Day. 

Of this relief the prophet was ' exceedingly glad.' But God 
prepared a worm, which smote the gourd, so diat it withered 
in a night. Then, when the sun rose next day, the Lord pre- 
pared a vehement east wind, and the sun beat fiercely upon 
the prophet's head until he fainted, and wished that he were 
dead. It was now the Lord's time to speak. *Doest thou 
well to be angry for the gourd ?' The vehement and shock- 
ingly unbecoming answer was, * I do well to be angry, even 
unto death.' Then said the Lord, in amazing condescension 
to the weakness of his servant, * Thou wouldst have spared the 
gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, nor madest it 
grow ; which came up in a night, and perished in a night : and 
should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein there are 
more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern 
between their right hand and their left, and also much cattle ?' 
Thus ends the book of Jonah. We are not told how this 
remonstrance wrought upon the prophet. We may hope that 
Ju profited by it. We know that we may. 

* The prophet trusted in his gourd. He rejoiced in it ; but 
he forgot the God who sent it. The gift: was, therefore, taken 
away ; and where was Jonah then ? Precisely where the sons 
of men are now, when their refuges of lies are swept away firom 
around them. It was only for a single day that Jonah enjoyed 
the gourd ; but that was enough to unveil the condition of his 
heart, when the thing in which he trusted withered before his 
eyes. It is in miniature, or in compend, the history of man. 
By nature we have all some gourd under which we sit — ^we all 
have something which we put in the place of God. His gifts 
are preferred to himself; for we all think it better to have a 
creature for our portion than " God over all, blessed for ever." 

* But is it not a blessing when these gourds wither ? Is it 
not mercy in God to sweep them utterly away, even though 
the heart should be half broken by the loss ? There is one 
reposing, for example, on his goods laid up for many days, 
and regarding them just as Jonah did the goodly foliage of the 
sheltering plant. Is it not a mercy, in the high reckoning of 
eternity at least, to have these gifts of God withdrawn, that 

The Gourd, 4 1 1 

God himself may be our trust ? Another is reposing under the 
shadow of some protecting friend. To him, and not to God, 
the eye of hope, or the heart of expectation, turns. Now, is it 
not a mercy, according to the standard of the sanctuary at 
least, that that earthly friend should be withdrawn, that we 
may learn to lean upon the Lord alone? A third may be 
seeking all the heaven which he knows, in something which 
perishes in the using. Is it not well that the delusion should 
be swept away, that God may be sought, and eternity provided 
for ? Many will bless God for ever because their gourds were 
withered — ^just as the saints in glory praise the King of saints, 
*' because they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were 
tempted, were slain with the swoni, they wandered about in 
sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, and tor- 
mented." Had the gourd not withered, the soul would not 
have been saved ; and the withering of the gourd, therefore, 
makes the anthem of the saved the louder.' * 

Another point entitled to remark, is the assertion of the 
Lord's providence in the frequent intimation that the Lord 
prepared all the material and circumstantial agencies that 
wrought in the history of Jonah. In his first adventure, the 
Lord prepared the storm, the Lord prepared the great fish; 
and, in the second, the Lord prepared the gourd, the Lord 
prepared the worm, the Lord prepared the east wind : all is of 
the Lord's preparing. This accounts for everything ; and we 
are not bound, in the case of the gourd, for instance, to find a 
plant which, without the special ordinance of 'the Lord's pro- 
vidence, should attain such growth in a night as to afford 
adequate shelter to the prophet's head. The Lord, however, 
is in all his dispensations economical of prodigies ; and we are 
to suppose that in this instance He did not create a new plant 
for the occasion, or choose one of naturally slow growth. It 
is more in the ordinary course of even his miraculous pro- 
vidence to suppose that a plant naturally of rapid growth was 
chosen, and that this natural quickness of growth .was preter- 

1 Man by Nature and Grace; or, Lessons from the Book of yonah. By 
the Rev. W. K. Tweedie. Edinburgh, 1850. 

412 Twenty-sixth Week — First Day. 

naturally stimulated for the occasion. The word employed in 
the original Hebrew is generally supposed to denote the castor- 
oil plant. It is of exceedingly rapid growth, and its broad 
palmatic leaves extend a grateful shade over the parched 
traveller. It is not unknown to our gardens ; but it does not 
in them, though still a plant of most rapid growth, attain the 
size or grow with the quickness that it does in the region of 
the Tigris. 

*" Elias/ says St. James, ' was a man subject to like passions as 
we are.' So was Jonah. So were all the prophets. The fact of 
their divine commission and divine inspiration did not make them 
perfect in temper or spotless in character. The prophetic call was 
something apart from, and altogether independent of, the intellect 
and the will of man. Man was made, in some mysterious way, the 
instrument of the divine will. He was forced to execute the divine 
commission, and inspired to declare the divine message. Jonah, 
as it appears, was no willing agent His stubborn will was made 
to bow to a superior, a heavenly power. His lips were compelled 
to utter words which of himself he never would have uttered. It 
was all the Lord's doing ; and it has in every age been wondrous in 
the eyes of man. The plan and purpose of the story and book of 
Jonah can only be understood when studied in the light of our 
Lord's statement regarding the prophet, and of the whole plan of 
divine grace. Jonah was a historical type. Every incident of the 
narrative as recorded is true ; but there is evangelical truth, deeper 
far and more glorious, embodied in the historical. 

Jonah was among the earliest — some say the earliest — of the 
prophets. It was he who predicted the restoration of the ancient 
boundaries of the kingdom of the ten tribes, as recorded in 2 Kings 
xiv. 25 ; a prediction which was fulfilled during the reign of Jero- 
boam II. It seems probable, however, that the mission to Nineveh 
was at a later period, and that he was a cotemporary of Hosea and 

Samaria and Zimi. 413 


The prophet Micah has a remarkable prophecy respecting 
each of the two capitals of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, 
and in both instances it has been accomplished in due time. 
It will be remembered that both Samaria and Jerusalem were 
flourishing capitals at the time of the prophecy ; and nothing 
could, in human calculation, have seemed less likely than that 
they should be brought into the condition the prophet intimates. 
Foreign conquest was indeed possible, and had already been 
foretold of both kingdoms by different prophets. But it by no 
means followed that these cities should suffer to the extent fore- 
shown ; for it was not the usual policy of conquerors to destroy 
the cities they reduced, but rather to preserve them as monu- 
ments of their own glory. 

But Micah, speaking in the name of the Lord, prophesies 
of Samaria : ^ I will make Samaria as a heap of the field, and 
as plantings of a vineyard ; and I will pour down the stones 
thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations 
thereof.' This prediction is not of that class, the terms of 
which may be applicabk to many different cities in given 
localities, and which, as we lately said, have been too much 
pressed in the specific application of details ; but it has ob- 
viousty, as in the case of Tyre, though not altogether in the 
same degree, a definite reference to circumstances, especially 
appropriate to a town situated as Samaria was. In the Narra- 
tive of Messrs. Bonar and M*Che3me, they state : * We read over 
the prophecy of Micah regarding Samaria as we drew near to 
it, and conversed together as to its full meaning. We asked 
Dr. Keith what he understood by the expression, " I will make 
Samaria as a heap of the field.^^ He said, he supposed the 
ancient stones of Samaria would be found, not in the form of 
ruins, but gathered into heaps in the same manner as in clean- 
ing a vineyard, or as our farmers at home clean their fields, by 

414 Twenty-sixth Week — Second Day. 

gathering the stones together.' Presently this conjecture was 
found to be completely verified ; but Jww^ they do not tell so 
clearly as Dr. Keith himself, in the last edition (1848) of his 
Evidence of Prophecy, *It is even reduced to be as a heap of 
the field. The stones which yet lie on its surface, bereft of 
the glory that might seem to hover round a ruin, however 
defaced, have been gathered singly, and cast into heaps, as it 
were, the heaps of a field, and not the remains of a capital. 
The ground has been cleared of them, to form the gardens or 
patches of cultivated ground possessed by the inhabitants of 
the wretched village which stands at the extremity of the site 
of the ancient city. The stones, as if in a field or vineyard, 
have been manifestly gathered into heaps to prepare the ground 
for being sown or planted. These stones evidently belonged 
to the buildings of the city.* 

But only a small proportion of its remains exists in this 
shape upon the top of the hill, * the crown of pride,' whereon 
the city stood; for, in conformity with the remainder of the 
prediction, the stones have been largely * poured down into the 
valley.' Ascending the side of the hill to its summit, Bonar 
and M*Cheyne observed that the whole of the face of tlie hill 
on that side suggests the idea, that the buildings of the ancient 
city had been thrown down from the top of the hill. Reach- 
ing the top, and going round the whole summit, they found 
marks of the same process everywhere. The people of the 
locality, in order to make room for their fields and gardens, 
had poured down the remains of the old buildings into the 
valley. Masses of stone, and in one place two broken colunms 
are seen, as it were on their way to the bottom of the hill, 
where they remain either partially strewed over the ground, or 
gathered into heaps among the trees. 

In speaking of Jerusalem, the prophet says, especially of 
Mount Zion, — then the stronghold as well as the court end of 
the town, and as such covered with palaces and fortifications, — 
that it should * be ploughed as a fields The limitation of this to 
Mount Zion shows that the prophet had in view the fact that 
the site of the city would not, like many other cities which are 

Samaria and Zioii. 415 

the subject of prophecy, be wholly forsaken ; but that, although 
for a time it should lie in ' heaps,' as after the destruction by 
the Chaldeans and by the Romans, it should eventually remain 
inhabited, but so greatly reduced in extent and importance, 
that the parts then enclosed within its walls should become 
suburban fields and gardens. This view, which we submit as 
the right one, is confirmed by the fact, that such a site as that 
of Mount Zion would never be cultivated but by people still 
occupying some part of the site of old Jerusalem. The fact 
that Zion is at this day ploughed as a field is undoubted. This 
was shown long ago by Dr. Richardson, who says that, at the 
time he was there, one part of it supported a crop of barley, 
another was undergoing the labour of the plough; and he 
observed that the soil turned up consisted of stone and lime 
mixed with earth, such as is usually met with in the founda- 
tions of ruined cities. Dr. Keith says that, on his first visit to 
Zion, he and his friends gathered some ears of barley from a 
field that had been ploughed and reaped ; and that, on his last 
visit, he saw the plough, as in any other field, actually cleaving 
the soil of Zion. 

The prophecy may also have contemplated another fulfil- 
ment. It was a custom of ancient conquerors to draw a plough 
over a conquered and ruined city, designing to express by this 
act that the site should be built upon no more, but should be 
given to agriculture. Now, it is well known that, after the 
destruction of the city and temple by the Romans, Tumus 
Rufus, the general left on the spot, passed the plough over the 
site, in conformity with orders received from the emperor ; in 
consequence of which, the place remained for many years 
utterly desolate. 

The two prophecies here mentioned by Dr. Kitto are deserving 
of careful attention. The predicted doom is in each case very 
remarkable. It is minute and specific ; and every man who now 
passes over * the hill of Samaria,' or stands upon the southern brow 
of Zion, must see that in each case the prediction has been minutely 
and literally fulfilled. I have carefully examined both the sites on 

4i6 Twenty-sixth Week — Third Day. 

several occasions, and I shall here give the result which is recorded 

' We hahed at the western gate of Samaria, waiting for one or 
two stragglers, and to take a last look at the place. The gate is a 
shapeless heap of ruins, forming the termination of the well-known 
colonnade. I was never more deeply impressed with the minute 
accuracy of prophetic description, and the literal fulfilment of every 
detail, than when standing on that spot. Samaria occupied one of 
the finest sites in Palestine, — a low, rounded hill, in the centre of a 
rich valley, encircled by picturesque mountains. Temples and 
palaces once adorned it, famed throughout the East for the splen- 
dour of their architecture. But the destroyer has passed over it : 
I saw that long line of broken shafts with the vines growing luxu- 
riantly round their bases ; I saw a group of columns in a corn-field 
on the hill-top ; I saw hewn and sculptured blocks of marble and 
limestone piled up in the rude walls of the terraced vineyards ; I 
saw great heaps of stones and rubbish among the olive groves in 
the bottom of the valley far below, — ^but I saw no other trace of the 
city founded by Omri, and adorned by Herod. One would think 
the prophet Micah had seen that desolate site as I saw it, his de- 
scription is so graphic.*^ 

As to Mount Zion, Micah's prophetic words have been fulfilled 
with equal minuteness. Zion is * ploughed like a field.' I have seen 
the plough turning up the furrows in the fields on Zion more than a 
dozen times. The southern section of the mount is now outside 
the city walL From the wall the hiU descends to the valley of 
Hinnom in steep terraced slopes. The terraces are covered with 
vineyards, ohve groves, and little corn-fields. Here any man may 
see daily the husbandman at work when the autumn rains begin to 
moisten the thirsty soiL 

Cfatnfg-si^l^ Mtth— Cj^irir gag* 


The whole of the prophecy of Nahum is *the burden of 
Nineveh,' and is occupied with a most animated description 
of the future downfall of that great city ; and the accounts of 

* Giant Cities of Bashan^ p. 227. 

Ruin of Nineveh, 4 1 7 

its overthrow, which the ancient historians have left, with the 
recent discoveries made on the spot, afford ample evidence of 
the exact fulfilment of his predictions. 

The event was brought about by the combined revolt of the 
Medes and Babylonians against the luxurious tyrant who then 
occupied the Assyrian throne. The king gave them battle, 
and was for a time successful; but eventually the allied re- 
volters, gaining continual accessions of strength, defeated him, 
and he was constrained to shut himself in the city, and prepare 
to sustain a siege, until the forces he had summoned from the 
remote provinces of his empire should arrive for his relief. 
Relying much upon an ancient oracle — that the city would 
never be taken until the river became its enemy — he was by 
no means dispirited, but prepared for the siege with a degree 
of courage, skill, and judicious forethought, for which he does 
not seem to have previously had credit He sent away his 
family and treasure to the care of a friend on the borders of 
the Black Sea, he strengthened and repaired the fortifications, 
and he laid in large stores of ammunition and provisions for 
the use of the soldiers and inhabitants. The siege had lasted 
two years, and no immediate cause of alarm for the safety of 
the city existed, when there was an extraordinary overflow of 
the Tigris, which carried away no less than twenty furlongs <rf 
the great wall of the city towards the river. Seeing this, and 
remembering the old oracle, the king gave up for lost, and 
withdrew to his palace, which, like another Zimri, he set on 
fire, and perished in the flames with all his concubines. The 
army of the confederates entered precipitately by the breach 
thus unexpectedly presented, and completed the ruin of the 

Now the siege was distinctly foretold by the prophet, and 
the extensive preparations that were made for it. * Draw thee 
waters for the siege, fortify thy strongholds : Go into clay, and 
tread the mortar, make strong the brick-kiln.' Nahum iii. 14. 

The agency of the river and its waters in the destruction of 
the city is still more emphatically indicated, Babylon and 
Nineveh were alike destroyed through the agency of the rivers 

VOL. VI. 2 D 

4i8 Twenty -sixth Week — Third Day. 

upon which they stood ; and at first view this may suggest that 
the doom of the two cities is so similar, that what is said of 
one may apply to the other. But closer consideration presents 
essential differences. In the case of Babylon, the river was 
* dried up,* that is, exhausted, so as to admit the enemy ; but 
in the case of Nineveh, the very reverse occurs : the river 
overflows its banks, and becomes an immediate and active 
agent in the city's overthrow. *With an over-running flood 
He will make an utter end of the place thereof. The gates of 
the river shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved. 
Nineveh of old is like a pool of water.' Of the appropriate- 
ness of every point in this description to an inundation of the 
Tigris, we ourselves are but too well able to speak, having 
been present in the greatest city (Baghdad) now upon the 
same river, when it was almost wholly destroyed by the most 
extensive inundation that has been known in modem times. 
The authorities do not state the time of the year when the 
Nineveh inundation occurred. The stream of this river is 
swollen twice in the year ; first in spring, from the melting of 
the snow in the mountains of Armenia. This is the greatest 
swell ; the whole of that country, of which this river is one of 
the principal drains, being thickly covered with snow during 
the winter months. The other inundation is from the fall of 
the autumnal rains. But any serious overflow is so rare, that 
it has no place among the contingencies which the inhabitants 
contemplate, and therefore they build their houses of materials 
little suited to withstand wet. The humbler dwellings are of 
sun-dried brick, which is speedily dissolved in water, and is 
even damaged by heavy rains. The better dwellings have 
apparently strong and thick walls of kiln-burnt bricks ; but this 
is merely a casing, the interior being either of sun-dried bricks, 
of loose texture, or of mere earthy rubbish. And when the 
water soaks through the outer casing, the interior mass dissolves^ 
or settles so as to break down the outer casing, and the build- 
ing suddenly gives way. In our own house, as in most others, 
there were underground cellars, in which the people live for 
coolness during the heats of summer. These extensive cellars 

Ruin of Nineveh. 4 1 9 

(called serdaubs) were soon filled deeply with water, which 
soaked through the basement walls, and caused the part of the 
house standing over the cellars to give way. This happened 
so suddenly, that, had not attention been drawn, in the merci- 
ful providence of God, to a small chink in the wall of the 
principal apartment, which had not been previously observed, 
some of us must have perished in the ruins. Indeed, as it was, 
we had only finally withdrawn a few minutes when the build- 
ing on that side fell in with a tremendous crash, darkening the 
air at the same time with immense clouds of dust. In the 
same way the greater part of the city was destroyed. In one 
night a large part of the city wall gave way, and then a vast 
number of houses fell by the irruption of the waters, burying 
thousands of the inhabitants among the ruins of their own 
homes. Since the destruction of Nineveh, there has not, that 
we remember, been any parallel ruin of a great city by the 
inundation of a river. And it cannot but strike the most care- 
less reader, how remarkably appropriate to the mode in which 
the water acts upon the buildings on that river are the words 
of the prophet : * the palace shall be dissolved^ 

It is further a singularly parallel circumstance, that the people 
of Baghdad were in expectation of a siege at the very time of 
the inundation. But in this case the extent of the overflow 
around the city, and the necessity of delaying till the waters 
should subside, allowed time for the repair of the wall before 
the hostile army could approach, so that the inhabitants were 
enabled to sustain a regular siege, and surrendered at last by 

But^r<? was also to be an agent in the destruction of Nineveh. 
* They shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.' ^ * The fire shall 
devour thy bars.' ^ * The fire shall devour thee.' * Secular 
history does, as we have shown, point to this agency, but not 
with so much distinctness and fulness of meaning as the actual 
ruins. It was formerly thought sufliicient to point to the 
historical fact that the king destroyed himself by fire, upon a 
funeral pile of his costly furniture and treasures. But th^ words 
'Nahumi. lo, *NaIiumiii. 13. ^^ahumiii. 15. 

420 Twenty-sixth Week — Third Day. 

of the prophet imply a more extensive conflagration ; and the 
excavations lately made upon the site have distinctly confinned 
this, by showing that the city, or at least the public buildings, 
must have been fired by the conquerors after they had com- 
pleted their work of slaughter and pillage. M. Botta is unable 
to account for the appearance which he found in the Khorsabad 
palace, but by supposing that the roof was of timber, and, being 
fired, fell into the area of the building, and continued burning 
a long time. During the excavations a considerable quantity 
of charcoal, and even pieces of wood, either half-burnt or in a 
perfect state of preservation, were found in many places. The 
lining of the chambers also bears undoubted marks of the 
action of fire. In fact, while the outside walls are untouched, 
the inside are calcined by intense heat. The appearances are 
such as could not be produced by the burning of a quantity of 
furniture. There must have been a violent and prolonged fire 
to calcine not only ^ few places, but every part of the slabs of 
gypsum, which were ten feet high, and several inches thick, 
reducing them so thoroughly to lime that they rapidly fell to 
pieces on being exposed to the air. 

Nor were these appearances confined to this locality. Layard 
makes the same observations with reference to the ruins of the 
palace at Koynnjik. * The palace had been destroyed by fire. 
The alabaster slabs were almost all reduced to lime, and many 
of them fell to pieces as soon as uncovered. The places that 
others had occupied could only be traced by a thin white 
deposit, left by the burnt alabaster upon the walls of sun-dried 
bricks, and having the appearance of a coating of plaster.' 

In Nahum's prophecy there is no note of time. Neither date nor 
reigning monarch is mentioned. There are, however, a few inci- 
dental allusions in the book which give the student of history suffi- 
cient data to fix the age in which the prophet wrote. It was in the 
reign of Hezekiah, and about the year B.C. 714. Consequently the 
prophecy was uttered nearly a century before the destruction of 

The book of Nahum is a beautiful poem which may be placed in 
the first rank of Hebrew literature. In style, in vividness of colour- 

Habakkuk, 421 

ing, and sublimity of thought, it is scarcely surpassed by Isaiah 
himself. The language is pure and classic, although here and there 
a foreign word is introduced ; the rhythm is melodious ; the imagery 
is rich and varied; and the whole structure is bold and grand. 
The description of the attributes and works of God in the opening 
chapter is among the finest in the Bible. It bears a close resem- 
blance to the twenty-ninth Psalm. The prediction also of the siege 
and overthrow of Nineveh is wonderfully graphic and impressive. 

Cfatntg-si^l^ Mejeh— Jfnurtj^ gag* 


It has sometimes appeared to us matter of regret, that this 
prophet had not a more sonorous name. No people ever had 
finer proper names than the Hebrews, whether we regard the 
sound or the signification. But this^ as regards the sound, is 
certainly an exception, and it seems the very worst of all their 
names ; it is, in fact, difficult to pronounce such a collocation 
of syllables with gravity ; and so offensive was it to the delicate 
organs of the Greeks, that translators and others who had 
occasion to produce it, modified it almost beyond recognition. 
Persons who like to give Scripture names to their children, 
have shunned this one; while it has been eagerly seized by 
novelists and playwrights as a suitable denomination for 
characters they designed to exhibit in some absurd point of 
view. The poet asks, *What is in a name?' But there is 
something in a name, and the longer any one lives, the more 
cause he has to find that names are things. 

We apprehend that this name has been a great disparage- 
ment to our prophet, and has in no faint degree operated in 
causing many readers unconsciously to hold the book in less 
regard than they might otherwise have done, and to entertain 
a very inadequate notion of the peculiar claims of this great 
prophet to their attention. We call him * great,' because it is 
only in the small extent of his book of prophecy that he is at 
all behind the very chiefest of the prophets. 

422 Twenty-sixth Week — Fourth Day. 

The subject of which the prophet treats is in itself grand, 
and had a peculiar interest to an Israelite. 

In prophetic vision, Habakkuk beholds the foe invade his 
native land ; the temple and its worship abolished ; the sacred 
land and the free nation given over to devastation and to 
opprobrium. A prospect like this was well suited to plunge 
any sensitive heart into the most bitter grief; and when realized 
in all the sharpness of prophetic perception, it could not but 
rend asunder a heart so warm and ardent as that of Habakkuk. 
It was not to be expected that a soul like his should make its 
inspirations heard in soft and plaintive notes — ^it must speak in 
the loud sound of the trumpet. It were difficult to find words 
to set forth adequately the exalted claims and peculiar merits 
of this high minstrel of grief and joy, of desolateness and hope, 
of scorn and tenderness. In the small compass of his book 
may be found, as in a compendium, all the glories and ex- 
cellences of prophetic poetry. Nothing can be more magni- 
ficent and sublime than the divine hymn which terminates his 
prophecy ; nothing more terrible than his threats ; nothing 
more biting than his scorn ; nothing more sweet and safe than 
his consolations. On Habakkuk God has bestowed in large 
measure all the qualities which belong to a great poet: an 
imagination equal to the reception and transmission of the 
grandest ideas ; an exquisite judgment, which imparts to his 
figures and pictures the utmost regularity and delicacy, and the 
most exact proportions; and a power over language, which 
gives harmony and softness, brilliancy and strength, to all his 

Habakkuk begins his poem with one animated portraiture, 
and closes it with another. Surely there never was a poet who 
described the march of a conqueror — mighty and full of arro- 
gance — in more vivid colours than he has done that of the 
Chaldeans : * That bitter and impetuous nation, which tra- 
verseth the wide regions of the earth, to seize upon habitations 
belonging not to it,* riding upon horses * swifter than leopards, 
and fiercer than evening wolves.' * Who has ever utffered more 

^Hab. i. 6-1 1. 

Habakkuk. 423 

derisive taunts than those in which the prophet proclaims the 
eventual triumph of the oppressed people over their proud 
tyrants — ^fallen from the height of their grandeur, and trodden 
beneath the feet of their enemies?^ What other poet has 
traced with so much force and sublimity, the dread solemnity 
of universal nature when the Lord descends upon the earth?" 
All the ancient history of the Hebrews opens up to afford the 
images and pictures of his great and marvellous scenes. All 
that nature has of the dreadful and magnificent becomes sub- 
servient to the aim of his inspired pen. When he came in his 
almightiness, * his glory covered the heavens, and the earth 
was full of his praise.* * Before Him went the pestilence, and 
burning coals went forth at his feet.' At his presence 'the 
everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did 
bow.* The * sun and moon stood still in their habitation,' at 
the greater brightness of his arrows as they fly, at the gleam of 
his glittering spear. Yet amid all these terrors, there is rest 
for the faithful soul; for he can say, 'The Lord God is my 
strength ;' ^ and ' although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither 
shall fruit be in the vines ; the labour of the olive shall fail, 
and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut 
off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my 
salvation.' * 

Language is at best an imperfect instrument of thought — 
still more imperfect as the vehicle of high inspirations from 
heaven. And in the case of Habakkuk, we seem to see the 
prophet grasping to seize words worthy to express his great 
conceptions, and images which may adequately represent them. 
Sometimes he adopts the expressions of earlier prophets, but 
he does not imitate them ; and all that he takes becomes his 
own, fused in the solid and glowing mass of his golden 

This view ^ of Habakkuk's prophetic poem, is in substantial 

iHab. ii. 6-17. ^Hab. iii. 3-15. ^Hab. iii. 19. *Hab. iii. 17, 18. 
* It is mainly based on that of Eichhom, who, in his Einleitung in das 
Alte Testament (Introduction to the Old Testament), has given more atten- 


424 Twenty-sixth Week— Fifth Day. 

agreement with that of most writers who have critically studied 
the poetry of prophecy. 


Gaza is very often mentioned in sacred history and prophecy. 
Most readers remember it chiefly as the scene of one of 
Samson's remarkable exploits, and of his death ; while others 
regard it with yet deeper interest, as a city over which the 
sure doom of prophecy hangs. 

One prophet declares that 'baldness is come upon Gaza;'^ 
another foretells that a fire should come upon the wall of 
Gaza which should devour the palaces thereof;' Zephaniah, 
whose text is before us, predicts that * Gaza shall be forsaken ;' 
and Zechariah^ declares that ^the king shall perish from 
Gaza.' About this prophecy, and that of Amos, there can 
be no question. The city has been without a native prince 
from the time of Alexander the Great ; and that it has been 
destroyed at least once by fire, kindled by hostile conquerors, 
is known. 

But what is meant by the baldness that was to come upon 
Gaza ? and what by its being forsaken ? — when it remains at 
this day one of the most important towns of Palestine, not 
only subsisting, but not declining, and, indeed, increasing in 
prosperity and population. Fifteen years ago, or less, the 
inhabitants were not reckoned to exceed 2000; they now 
number 15,000, owing to constant accessions from Egypt- 
there being a great and steady movement of population ftom 
that country to Palestine, of whole families and villages at a 
time, to exchange the austere rule of the Pasha for the milder 

tion to the special characteristics of Habakkuk than any other writer has 
done. We have not exactly translated his remarks, but have reported 
them with such alterations and additions as seemed desirable for the 
English reader. 

1 Jer. xlvii 5. 2 Amos i. 7. » Zech. ix. $. 

Gaza. 425 

or looser sway of the Sultan. Gaza, being about four miles 
from the frontier, and the first important place the fugitives 
reach, many of them remain there as inhabitants. Gaza, as 
it stands now, is a large but straggling town, covering about 
twenty times as much space as its population requires. Its 
houses are strongly constructed, consisting of a confused 
mixture of ancient and of the rudest modem architecture ; 
ruins of magnificent palaces, roughly patched up with mud 
and brambles to shelter their present uncouth tenants ; in 
the intervals appear the Bedouin huts, plastered with cow- 
dung, and the well-smoked tents of the Zingari, or gipsy 

Where, then, is the * baldness' of Gaza? How has it be- 
come forsaken ? 

A recent traveller, animadverting on the craving for the 
minute fulfilment of local prophecies, and on the absurdities 
and exaggerations into which many thus fall, adds : * Such 
conduct admits of the less excuse, because the proofs of ac- 
complished prophecy are too numerous to leave any just cause 
for anxiety respecting those that remain unfulfilled or unex- 
plained. It may even be that many a fulfilment has left no 
traces behind ; the prediction and the fulfilment having been 
designed for a generation that has passed away. I have read 
some interpretations of prophecy which are calculated only to 
excite a smile. A recent traveller has discovered the fiilfil- 
ment of the prediction that baldness should come upon Gaza 
(an orientalism simply expressive of lamentation and woe), in 
the fact that the modem town is built round the head of the 
hill, leaving the upper part unoccupied, in the form of a 
tonsure.' 1 

Now, we agree with this writer as to the puerility of looking 
for baldness in this, and, we may add, in any other of the 
merely physical circumstances of the site. It is very clear 
to us that the term can have no such reference, — ^to make bald, 
being merely to create cause for sorrowing; and of this we 
historically know that Gaza had enough. It seems to us that 

^ Beldam, Italy and the Eats, 

426 Twenty-sixth Week — Fifth Day. 

the sorrows of men afford a much more magnificent and 
forcible illustration of such a prophecy, and certainly a more 
direct one, than the bareness of the top of one or of many 
hills, or of the site or any part of it, seeing that this is a cir- 
cumstance which equally belongs to ancient sites everywhere, 
and to numerous hills along this coast. There is nothing 
specific or distinctive in baldness thus interpreted. 

But a greater apparent difficulty remains. The prophet, in 
the text before us, says that Gaza should be forsaken; and, 
behold, it is now a populous town. For our own part, we 
should be quite ready to conclude that this prophecy had been 
adequately fulfilled by the desolation in which it lay for many 
years after its destruction by king Alexander Jannaeus, who 
may, indeed, be deemed by that act to have accomplished the 
prophecies against Gaza. There is still another, and, some 
will think, a better answer in the fact, that the modem Gaza 
does not occupy the site of the ancient city. We must, how- 
ever, confess to some doubts whether a city, rising in the 
immediate vicinity of an old one, and assuming identity by 
taking the same name, is not, in fact, as nearly the same city 
as a modem city can be identical with an ancient one ; and, 
on that ground, we feel more certainty in resting upon the 
historical fact that Gaza has been forsaken. 

However, that the modem Gaza does not stand on the site 
of the old one, had long been known, from the circumstance 
that the situation does not correspond with the ancient intima- 
tions which have reached us, and which show that old Gaza 
must have stood much nearer to the sea. But the fact has 
only of late been established, by the actual discovery of the 
ancient site. We owe this really interesting discovery to Dr. 
Keith, who has twice visited Palestine with views directed 
to the illustration of local prophecies. On his first visit, he 
sought in vain for any traces of the ancient Gaza ; but in the 
second, he was more favoured. He surveyed the site more 
leisurely, and was confirmed in the opinion he had previously 
inclined to, that the ancient city was entombed in the sand. 
* In less than a mile from the present town, in a direct line 

Gaza. 427 

towards the sea, the sand commences, and all vegetation 
ceases. For more than a mile and a half in the same direc- 
tion, the whole space is covered with sand, and in every hollow 
innumerable diminutive pieces of broken pottery and marble 
are spread over the surface. Passing along the shore to the 
south, we came to the ruins of an old wall that reached to the 
sea. Ten large massy fragments of wall were embedded in 
the sand, or resting on it. A large square building, close to 
the shore, seems to be the remains of some public edifice. 
At the farther distance of about two miles, are fragments of 
another wall. Four intermediate fountains still exist, nearly 
entire, in a line along the coast, whicli doubtless pertained 
to the ancient port of Gaza. For a short distance, indeed, 
the debris is less frequent, as if marking the space between it 
and the ancient city ; but it again becomes plentiful in every 
hollow. About half a mile from the sea, we saw three pedes- 
tals of beautiful marble. . . . Holes are still to be seen from 
which hewn stones had been taken ; and the former secretary 
of Ibrahim Pasha, at Gaza, and another native, stated that all 
the way between the present town and the sea, hewn stones 
of various sizes have been taken out of the sand, and carried 
to Gaza for building.' 

This is a very interesting statement, and doubtless the 
remains thus buried in the sand indicate the site of old Gaza. 
Still, the last circumstance does but help to strengthen the 
essential identity of the ancient and the modem Gaza ; and in 
the doubt which we entertain whether a city rising close beside 
an old one, taking its name, and being in a great measure 
built with its materials, is not historically identical with it, we 
remain disposed to take the New Testament as in this instance 
a sufficient interpreter of the Old, and to find in the angel's 
direction to Philip, ample corroboration of the prophecy : 
* Arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down 
from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert,^ It was * desert,' 
or forsaken then, and had been so for many years, as the pro- 
phet had foretold. What more need we require ? 

428 Twenty-sixth Week — Sixth Day. 

Dr. Kitto's reference to the passage in the New Testament, as an 
interpreter, in this instance, of the Old, is unfortunate. The struc- 
ture of the passage shows that the clause, ' which is desert,' does 
not refer to the city of Gaza, but to the route along which the 
eunuch was driving. With the city and its state — ^whether in- 
habited or deserted — the writer had manifestly no concern; but 
with the road he had. The angel was directing Philip to the exact 
spot where the eunuch was to be found. There were then, as now, 
several roads leading from Jerusalem to Gaza. Two traversed the 
rich plain of Philistia ; but one ran to Beit Jibrin (Eleutheropolis\ 
and thence direct through an uninhabited waste to Gaza. This 
was the * desert ' route ; and to it Philip was directed. The note of 
Dr. Robinson on the point is most important ; * When we were at 
Tell-el-Hasy, and saw the water standing along the bottom of the 
adjacent wady, we could not but remark the coincidence of several 
circumstances with the account of the eunuch's baptism. This 
water is on the most direct route from Beit Jibrin to Gaza, on the 
most southern road from Jerusalem, and in the midst of the country 
now " desert," ue, without villages of fixed habitations.'^ 

'^Ssitxii-g'mi\ 8ffiUjeh— Sktfr gag* 


That must have been a dreadful earthquake which took place 
in the reign of king Uzziah ; for it is clear that it made a deep 
impression upon the public mind. Amos dates his prophetic 
call from ' two years before the earthquake ;*2 and, so long as 
250 years after, Zechariah reminds the people how their fathers 
' fled from before the earthquake in the days of king Uzziah.' 
One might greatly desire further information respecting an 
event so memorable; but it is not even mentioned in the 
scriptural accounts of Uzziah's reign. Josephus, and other 
Jewish writers, however, speak of it fi*om the traditions of their 
nation ; and the statements furnished may be correct in the 
material facts, although they undoubtedly err in connecting it 

1 Biblical Researches, ii. 515. * Amos i. I. 

The Earthquake. 429 

with Uzziah*s sacrilege in attempting to bum incense upon the 
golden altar, as related in 2 Chron. xxvi. 16; for it can be 
chronologically shown, that the earthquake must have been 
many years anterior to the sacrilege.^ Josephus, however, 
connects these events. He says, that at the moment of the 
king's offering, an earthquake shook the ground, and a rent 
was made in the temple through which the rays of the sun 
shone on the king's face, and made manifest the leprosy with 
which he had been smitten. At the same time, at a place 
called Eroge, fronting the city on the west, the mountain was 
rent, and one-half fell and rolled itself four furlongs, stopping 
at the foot of the hill bounding the city on the east, so that 
the road and the king's gardens were spoiled by the obstruc- 
tion. This was what is called a landslip — an event often con- 
nected with earthquakes, and which seems to have been familiar 
to the sacred writers, as there are several allusions to it in the 
poetical books. 

There is no other earthquake historically mentioned in Scrip- 
ture, except that which took place at our Lord's crucifixion. 
But the frequency of the allusions to these phenomena in the 
imagery of the Psalmist and other sacred writers, shows that 
earthquakes were only too well known to the Jewish people. 
In fact, Palestine is to this day much subject to earthquakes, 
though less so than some other parts of Syria, as at Aleppo, 
where few years pass without an earthquake being felt, but in 
general so slightly, that it causes little alarm unless from the 
concurrence of other circumstances. When the shocks occur 
in the daytime, they are often not perceived by persons walk- 

^ The vision of Amos, * two years before the earthquake,' was also in 
the reign of Jeroboam ii., king of Israel. The king died in the fifteenth 
year of Uzziah, and consequently the earthquake could not have been later 
than the seventeenth of the same reign. But Uzziah reigned in all fifty- 
two years ; and that his attempt to bum incense occurred towards the end 
of his reign is manifest from the fact, that being then smitten with the 
leprosy, the regency was assumed by his son ; and as this prince was but 
twenty-five years old at the demise of his father, he was so far from being 
in a condition to act as regent at the /a^^r/date assignable to the earthquake 
of Amos, that he could not have been bom till ten years later. 

430 Twenty-sixth Week — Sixth Day. 

ing in tlie streets and crowded bazaars ; but in the quiet of the 
night they are often dreadful, and make an awful impression 
upon one suddenly aroused from sleep. 

Some years ago we made a large, collection from histories 
and travels, of facts relating to earthquakes in Syria. We 
found that most of them operated chiefly in the northern 
and lower parts of S)Tia. Palestine was rarely mentioned as 
suffering much from their effects ; and when visited by this 
calamity, it was generally noticed that the highest parts of the 
land suffered least. It is more than once observed that Jeru- 
salem was but little affected by earthquakes from which other 
towns suffered severely. We shall not enter into details con- 
cerning them, being anxious to reserve our fullest attention for 
the last earthquake in Palestine ; as respecting this we possess 
very ample and distinct information. 

The earthquake occurred on the first day of the year 1837. 
We owe the best accounts of the circumstances and pheno- 
mena to an American missionary, the Rev. W. M. Thomson, 
and to a Jewish missionary, Mr. S. Caiman, who were at Beirut 
at the time, and who immediately journeyed forth to the scene 
of the calamity in the hope of affording relief to the survivors. 
The particulars we proceed to give are gathered chiefly from 
Mr. Thomson's account of this journey, as it appeared in the 
American Missionary Herald iox November 1837. 

The shock occurred about half-past four p.m., and was 
neither preceded nor followed by any remarkable phenomenon. 
A pale smoky haze obscured the sun, and gave a touch of sad- 
ness to the scene ; and a lifeless and almost oppressive calm 
settled down upon the face of nature. These appearances, 
however, are not uncommon in that country. At Beirut itself 
little damage was done ; though for several days succeeding 
the shock, flying reports from various quarters gave frightful 
accounts of towns and villages overthrown, and of lives lost ; 
but so slowly does authentic information travel in that country, 
that eight days had elapsed before any reports that could be 
relied on were received. Letters then arrived, stating that 
Safet was utterly destroyed, not a house remaining of any de- 

The Earthquake. 431 

scription, and that Tiberias and many other places had shared 
the same deplorable fate. Some of the letters stated that not 
a hundred of the inhabitants of Safet had escaped; while 
others, more correctly, declared that out of a population of 
10,000, at least 6000 had perished. 

A collection was then made for the relief of the sufferers, 
and Messrs. Thomson and Caiman set forth on their benevolent 
mission. Ruin met them all the way. Sidon had suffered, 
and Tyre still more; but we must pass over the minor incidents, 
to reach the prime seat of the visitation. We may note, how- 
ever, that at Ramash the people were at prayer in the church 
when the shock took place, and the building fell, and all of 
them, to the number of 130, perished. The only exception was 
the priest, who was then standing in the recess of the altar. 
At this place the travellers were shown a rent in the mountain, 
a little to the east of the village. It was about a foot wide and 
fifty feet long, and was said to have been wider when first dis- 
covered after the shock. 

At length they reached Safet ; and as they ascended the steep 
mountain upon whose top the city stands, they saw several 
rents and cracks in the earth and the rocks, giving painful in- 
dication of what might be expected above. The rest must be 
told in the language of the eye-witness himself, though with 
some compression. 

* Up to this moment I refused to credit the account, but one 
frightful glance convinced me that it was not in the power of 
language to overstate such a ruin. Suffice it to say, that this 
great town, which seemed to me like a bee-hive four years ago, 
and was still more so only eighteen days ago, is now no more, 
Safet was^ but is not. The Jewish portion, containing a popu- 
lation of five or six thousand, was built around and upon a very 
steep mountain : so steep, indeed, is the hill, and so compactly 
built is the town, that the roof of the lower house formed the 
street of the one above, thus rising like a stairway over one 
another. And thus, when the tremendous shock dashed every 
house to the ground in a moment, the first fell upon the second, 
the second upon the third, that on the next, and so on to the 

432 Twenty-sixth Week — Sixth Day. 

end. And this is the true cause of the almost unprecedented 
destruction of life. Some of the lower houses are covered up 
to a great depth with the ruins of many others, which were 
above them. From this cause also, it occurred that a vast 
number who were not instantaneously killed, perished before 
they could be dug out ; and some were taken out five, six, and 
one, I was told, seven days after the shock, still alive. One 
solitary man, who had been a husband and father, told me that 
he found his wife, with one child under her arm, and the babe 
with the breast still in its mouth. He supposed the babe had 
not been killed by the fallen ruins, but had died of hunger, 
endeavouring to draw nourishment fi-om the breast of its lifeless 
mother. Parents jfrequently told me that they had heard the 
voices of their little ones crying, "Papal papa!" "Mamma! 
mamma !" fainter and fainter, till hushed in death, while they 
were either struggling in despair to free themselves, or labour- 
ing to remove the fallen timber and rocks from their children. 

God of mercy ! what a scene of horror must have been that 
long black night, which closed upon them half an hour after 
the overthrow ! — without a light or the possibility of getting 
one ; four-fifths of the whole population under the ruins, dead 
or dying, with frightful groans ; and the earth still trembling 
and shaking, as if terrified with the desolation she had wrought ! 

* What a dismal spectacle ! As far as the eye can reach, 
nothing is seen but one vast chaos of stone and earth, timber 
and boards, tables, chairs, beds, and clothing, mingled in 
horrible confusion; men everywhere at work, wc«Ti-out and 
woe-begone, uncovering their houses in search of the mangled 
and putrefied bodies of departed friends ; while here and there 

1 noticed companies of two or three each, clambering over the 
ruins, bearing a dreadful load of corruption to the narrow house 
appointed for all living. I covered my face, and passed on 
through the half-living, wretched remnants of Safet Some 
were weeping in despair, and some laughing in callousness more 
distressing. Here an old man sat solitary, on the wreck of his 
once crowded house ; there a child was at play, too young to 
realize that it had neither father nor mother, brother nor rela- 

Tlu Earthquake. 433 

tion in the wide world. They flocked around us : husbands 
that had lost their wives, wives their husbands, parents without 
children, children without parents, and not a few left the soli- 
tary remnants of large connections. The people were scattered 
abroad, above and below the ruins, in tents of old boards, old 
carpets, mats, canvas, brick, and earth, and not a few dwelling 
in the open air ; while some poor wretches, wounded and 
bruised, were left amongst the prostrate buildings, every 
moment exposed to death, from the loose rocks around and 
above them.* 

The narrator goes on to give a most painful account of the 
miseries he witnessed in proceeding to visit the wounded. In 
one instance, * clambering over a pile of ruins, and entering a 
low vault by a hole, I found eight of the wounded crowded to- 
gether, under a vast pile of crumbling rocks : some with legs 
broken in two or three places ; others so horribly lacerated and 
swollen as scarcely to retain the shape of mortals ; while all, 
left without washing, changing bandages, or dressing the wounds, 
were in such a deplorable state, as rendered it impossible for 
us to remain with them long enough to do them any good.' 
They therefore proceeded to construct a wooden * shanty,' as a 
kind of hospital, and had the wounded removed to it — admini- 
stering to their ailments and wants so far as their skill and 
means allowed; and on the 19th they record, that 'the earth 
continued to tremble and to shake,* and there had been many 
slight, and some violent shocks, since their arrival. 

At Tiberias the destruction of life was great, but much less, 
proportionally, than at Safet — probably owing to the fact, that 
the former stands upon a plain, and the latter upon a high 
mountain. Not more than 700 perished, out of a population of 
2500 ; while at Safet, 4000 out of 5000 Jews and Christians 
were killed, and not far short of 1000 Moslems. 

The volcanic character of the region which was the centre of 
this great disaster is well known ; the very houses being to a 
great extent built with volcanic stone. This alone suffices to 
show the liability of this quarter to earthquakes, and attests 
their former occurrence ; and if the earthquake from which 

VOL. VI. 2 E 

434 Twenty -sixth Week — Seventh Day, 

people fled In the days of king Uzziah was as disastrous as that 
of i33Y — ^and it was probably more so, as the land was then 
more full of towns and people — ^there was ample cause for its 
being so well remembered. 

EDGM. — ^MALACHI I. 3, 4. 

Prophecy is full of denunciations against Edom ; and most of 
them bear a specific reference to the local habitation of the 
Edomites among the mountains of Seir, which stretch along 
the eastern side of the great valley extending between the Dead 
Sea and the Gulf of Akabah, by which designation the eastern 
arm of the Red Sea is now known. They also point very 
emphatically to the metropolitan seat of the Edomite power in 
the midst of these mountains, in the city called in Scripture, 
Selah and JoktheeL The latter name was given to it by a con- 
quering king of Judah (2 Kings xiv. 7), but it had no perma- 
nence ; and the other, which is of earlier origin, and means * a 
rock,' was eventually rendered into the Greek, Petra, which has 
the same meaning \ and by this name, the capital of Edom is 
known in secular history. 

The Edomites were not immediately affected by the Chaldean 
operations in those lands. By a timely submission, they appear 
to have won the favour of Nebuchadnezzar; and they are 
named as among his willing auxiliaries in the invasion of Judah. 
They are represented as triumphing, with the most fiendish 
malignity, over the ruin of their kinsmen, of whose desolated 
land they hoped to obtain a large portion for themselves. This 
behaviour marked them out for divine judgments, which were 
accordingly denounced by the prophets. Although these judg- 
ments, in their final consummation, lay in the future ; although 
the Edomites were not, like the Jews, carried into captivity ; 
and although they succeeded in appropriating much of the 
southern parts of Judah, even unto Hebron, — ^yet did not they 


Edom. 435 

escape the first-fruits of the doom that hung over them. The 
interval firom the destruction of Jerusalem to the prophecy of 
Malachi is not less than 190 years, during which we possess 
little or no information concerning them; and we know not 
how the impoverishment and desolation which he states them 
to have sustained were brought about. Our own impression is, 
that they were less favoured by the Persian monarchs than they 
had been by the Chaldean kings ; and that, on some ground of 
displeasure, they had suffered much from the Persians in their . 
expeditions against Egypt, with which country, whose border , 
was contiguous to their own, tlie Edomites had intimate rela- 
tions. At the time Malachi wrote, the Eg3rptians had lately 
shaken off for a time the Persian yoke ; and it was this, pro- 
bably, which inspired the Edomites with the hope and design 
of restoring their ruined cities, and of repairing the losses they 
had sustained. To this fact the prophet refers : * I hated Esau, 
and laid his moimtains and his heritage waste for the dragons 
of the wilderness.* The denunciations of the prophets had, 
therefore, already been fulfilled in their primary signification ; 
and with this evidence of later prophecy before us, did it stop 
here, we should be entitled to conclude that these anterior pro- 
phecies had been accomplished in their season, even if we now 
found the Edomites a flourishing people, and their cities stand- 
ing in their strength. But now the last of the prophets comes 
forward to renew the prophecies that might seem to have lapsed 
by fulfilment, and gives to them a final and ulterior signifi- 
cation, which was not to be frustrated by the present move- 
ment among the Edomites. * Whereas Edom saith, We are 
impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places ; 
thus saith the Lord of Hosts, They shall build, but I will throw 
down ; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, 
and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for 
ever;^ which indignation, it is clear from the context, was to 
be manifested by throwing down all that might be rebuilt in 
repair of former desolations. 

Now, much as has been said and written of the prophecies 
respecting Edom, it appears to us that much force of illustra- 

436 - Twenty -sixth Week — Seventh Day. 

tion * has btttn lost by neglecting to take into account the 
greatly later date of this prophecy as compared with all the 
others, and the peculiar circumstances under which it was de- 
livered, and to which we have therefore invited particular atten- 
tion. Most remarkably have these words been fulfilled. The 
style of the remains existing in Petra, the metropolis of Edom, 
shows that the structures belonged to dates posterior to the 
time of this prophecy ; and we know in fact historically, that it 
subsequently became a rich and flourishing city. The inten- 
tion of the Edomites, as disclosed by the prophet, was therefore 
accomplished by themselves and their successors ; but the 
Lord's intention has also been accomplished. Of the Edomites 
not even a name remains ; and their city has for ages remained 
broken and desolate. The very site, indeed, was long uncer- 
tain, and its place was undetermined in the maps. But as, in 
the index which closes a book, the various events of centuries 
are crowded into a few pages ; so, in these latter days, events 
that used to be spread over centuries are crowded together 
into days and years, and the old world history seems tame to 
the history we live. In this wonderful age events come in 
* multitudes, multitudes to the valley of decision ;' and old 
nations and cities — Egypt, Assyria, Edom ; Thebes, Nineveh, 
Petra — are called forth from their tombs, and rattling their dry 
bones together, and shaking oft the time-crust of many ages, 
they stand up in grim array to bear witness to God's truth. 
Edom was called, and Petra answered to her name. There she 
stands, beautiful in her coat of many colours ; yet empty, and 
void, and waste. But that we feared to repeat a thrice-told 
tale, with which all the readers of this volume must be familiar, 
we could speak largely of that marvellous city among *the 
clefts of the rock,' and the ' height of the hills * in a deep 
fissure of the Seir mountains, with the tombs and habitations 
cut out in the enclosing cliffs of red, yellow, purple, azure, 
black, and white stone, and enriched with fagades, cut in the 
living rock, and in a fantastic but not inelegant architecture, 
combining the styles of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. 

Singularly beautiful even in ruin, and with the freshness of 

4. . 

Edom. I " ■• • 437 

youth still upon her brow, the utter desolation itt which ' the 
daughter ©f Edom' lies shut up amidst the silence of her 
mountains, is most impressive, and even affecting. But all* this 
was foreseen and foretold with great distinctness by the pro- 
phets ; and these fearful denunciations, and their exact fulfil- 
ment, furnish an invulnerable argument for the inspiration of 
the Scriptures ; while the present state of the rich and beautiful 
region in which Edom dwelt, is a most awful monument o# 
the Lord's displeasure against idolatry and wickedness. Yet, 
* Suppose ye that they were sinners above all others because 
they suffered such things ? I tell you, Nay : but except ye 
repent, ye shall all likewise perish.' 

With the book containing this prediction concerning Edom, 
the roll of Old Testament prophecy closes. And it so closes 
with great and important significance, as the book is linked on 
to the New Testament by its last words, which, as interpreted 
by our Lord himself, clearly announce the mission of the 
Harbinger of Christ, with whose actual appearance the Gospel 
history opens. This perception of the relation which the pro- 
phecy of Malachi bears to the fulfilments of the New Testament, 
will be found to give to many of the prophet's intimations a 
strong and pointed emphasis, which may be overlooked when 
this consideration is not borne in mind. 

Though the Israelites and Edomites were closely related, and 
though the former were commanded * not to abhor an Edomite, for 
he is thy brother,' yet the bitterest enmity existed between the 
two nations at every period of their history. When Israel asked 
leave to pass through Edom on the way to Canaan, it was rudely 
and insultingly refused. During the decline of Jewish power, the 
Edomites encroached on southern Palestine ; and when Nebuchad- 
nezzar besieged Jerusalem, the Edomites joined him, and took an 
active part in the plunder and slaughter which followed. Their 
cruelty is specially mentioned in Psalm cxxxvii., and was the chief 
cause of those terrible prophetic curses pronounced upon them by 
the later prophets, and since executed with such wonderful minute- 


438 ^ Twmft^ixth Week — Seventy Daj/^..^ • 

KHom^once so rich infUocks, so strong in its fortressife^nd fQCk- 

%iewnt:ities, s8 famous for the architectural splendaid:'o$itfejtemgles 

«in(^palaces, is now a deserted and desolate wilderit^ss. Its whole 

population is contained in some three or four miserable villages; 

no merchant would now venture to cross its borders ; its highways 

are untrodden, its cities are in ruins. The predictions of God's 

1^* inspired prophets have been fulfilled to the letter. * Thorns shall 

come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses 

g;hereof ;' * When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee deso- 

^ late;' *Thou shak be desolate, O Mount Seir, and all Idumaea, 

even all of it ;' * Edom shall be a desolation ; every one that goeth 

by it shall be astonished' 




.»- ' •